Pranab declines to comment on Raja issue

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NEW DELHI - Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Sunday refused to answer questions on Telecom Minister A. Raja or the 2G spectrum allocation, holding that anything on it will only be said in parliament.

He was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the India Economic Summit.

Earlier, during the day Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi met senior party leaders to discuss the issue after opposition stalled parliament last week to demand the ouster of Raja over the scam.

According to the Congress sources, the party has already stated that a decision on continuation of Raja in the cabinet had to be taken by his party and alliance partner, DMK. They also cited Raja’s remarks that a lobby opposing mobile number portability was targeting him.

Raja has been accused of ignoring the advice of the finance and law ministries, as also the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, while allocating 2G spectrum thus allegedly caused the national exchequer a loss of 1.76 trillion ($40 billion).

The telecom department had followed the policy of first-come-first-served basis in the allocation of 2G spectrum licences and the cut-off date was arbitrarily changed and the licences were also awarded to just 120 of the 575 applicants.

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