Karat for thorough probe into spectrum allocation
Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran came under increasing pressure on Wednesday, with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam demanding his resignation and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) calling for a thorough investigation into reports that alleged his family benefited from policies and decisions he made as Minister for Communications between 2004 and 2007.
BJP general secretary Jagat Prakash Nadda wanted Mr. Maran to quit following reports that alleged that an investment made by Malaysian company Maxis Communications in a direct-to-home company of the Sun TV Network owned by Mr. Maran's brother, Kalanidhi Maran, could have been a quid pro quo for Aircel getting 14 mobile telephony licences after Maxis took it over.
AIADMK general secretary and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa demanded that the Minister quit and face legal proceedings.
“I am quite sure the Prime Minister knows what should be done… The Prime Minister should ask him to quit immediately, if he has already not done so,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said at a press conference in Chennai.
CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat called for a “serious investigation” into the allocation of licences and spectrum when Mr. Maran was Communications Minister. “I hope the Prime Minister and the Central government will immediately get this [matter] investigated,” he told reporters after he called on Ms. Jayalalithaa at the Secretariat in Chennai.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Mr. Dayanidhi Maran denied any wrongdoing during his tenure in the Communications Ministry and termed the charge that he favoured a particular company in granting a Unified Access Service licence “untrue and malicious.”
In New Delhi, the BJP said that during Mr. Maran's tenure, the cap on foreign direct investment in this sector was raised from 26 to 74 per cent. Maxis Communications had then bought 74 per cent equity in Aircel, which initially had a licence only for Tamil Nadu.
“Mr. Maran had got benefit for the company as during his tenure the company was given 14 additional licences,” party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged on Tuesday and demanded a detailed investigation. On Wednesday, the BJP went a step further.
Mr. Nadda said the party “demands the resignation of Mr. Maran immediately and if he does not resign, the Prime Minister should sack him.” He had written to the CBI Director A.P. Singh, seeking answers to “very disturbing questions” related to Mr. Maran's stint as Communications Minister.
Mr. Nadda said that in the letter he had asked whether Aircel was given a number of licences after Maxis Communications acquired 74 per cent of its equity.
The BJP wanted to know whether 2G spectrum was allotted to the company at rates fixed in 2001.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation moved the Supreme Court, demanding a CBI investigation into charges that licences were given to Aircel by Mr. Maran on the basis of a “quid pro quo.”