New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) Assuring that corruption will be dealt with at any level, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday said auction of airwaves to telecom firms was above board and gave a clean chit to Communications Minister A. Raja, pending conclusion of a probe.
‘What he (Raja) did was implement a policy that was already in place,’ the prime minister told a press conference here, referring to the process followed for auction of spectrum for second-generation (2G) telecom services at prices prevailing in 2001.
‘It would have been unfair to new entrants if a new yardstick was used.’
The question was raised in the wake of charges that precious airwaves for 2G were sold to telecom firms at throwaway prices, resulting in losses worth billions of dollars, seen in the light of $15 billion the government will get from 3G spectrum auction.
Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) have called for Raja’s resignation, calling 2G auction a 15-billion scam.
‘If the minister refuses to resign, the prime minister should sack him,’ the BJP said.
But the prime minister said no policy was flouted.
‘You have to look at it in proper perspective,’ he said, adding both the watchdogs, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Telecom Commission, had approved the policy on 2G auctions.
He said since complaints were received and the matter was being probed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), it would be improper to comment any further.
‘Our government has been very clear right from the beginning that corruption is a problem. If I come to know that there is any involvement at any level, we will take action,’ Manmohan Singh said.
This was the first formal press meet to mark the completion of one year of his second term as prime minister of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.