“Raja did not mislead PM at any stage but in fact informed him of every single move”

Targeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the 2G scam, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday alleged that the former Minister, A. Raja, “did not mislead him at any stage” (while allocating telecom licences in January 2008). It also accused Dr. Singh of letting Mr. Raja off “in spite of having full knowledge” of his actions and of giving his [Raja's] predecessor Dayanidhi Maran a “free hand” to ensure that Maxis gained entry into the Indian telecom sector.

The BJP, which released a booklet, “Prime Minister's role in 2G spectrum scandal uncovered,” said Dr. Singh had not been consistent in his statements, changing his position five times on the scam and Mr. Raja. A chapter, “PM knew everything that A. Raja was doing,” states that in November 2010, the government defended the former Telecom Minister in its affidavits in the Supreme Court and said “the Prime Minister's Office was kept informed about all the decisions made by Mr. Raja [on the licence allocation process].” It referred to the letters exchanged between Mr. Raja and Dr. Singh a few weeks before 122 new licences were given away in January 2008 in a controversial manner.

“Mr. Raja did not mislead the PM at any stage but in fact informed him of every single move that had [been] made, including deviations [from policy] … he changed the first come, first served [FCFS] definition and illegally advanced the cut-off date — both after informing the PM in writing ... The PM knew the problem [excessive demand and too little spectrum which could not allow FCFS] and the solution [auctions or price indexation]. In effect, this shows that the PM was not misled and is an expert who knew exactly how to stop the scam.”

The booklet also referred to the difference of opinion on spectrum pricing between the Department of Telecommunications and the Finance Ministry. The BJP alleged that “the PM has lied to the nation” regarding concurrence between the DoT and the Finance Ministry.

In another chapter, “PM knew everything that Dayanidhi Maran was doing,” the BJP accused Mr. Raja's predecessor of favouring Maxis, a stakeholder in the telecom company Aircel, and later, in a case of quid pro quo, the Malaysian firm's group company invested in Sun TV, owned by Mr. Maran's brother.

The booklet specifically mentions about a “personal letter” (marked secret) that Mr. Maran wrote to Dr. Singh on February 28, 2006 stating, “You had kindly assured me that the Terms of Reference of the Group of Ministers would be drawn up exactly the way we wanted … I am, however, surprised to note that the GoM as constituted has much wider Terms of Reference, some of which I feel impinge upon the work normally to be carried out by the Ministry (DoT) itself … kindly instruct the concerned to modify Terms of Reference as suggested by us.”

Consequent to this letter, the BJP alleged, spectrum pricing was removed from the ToR of the GoM. “In case of Mr. Maran, the PM actually participated in the process of bringing Maxis in (by increasing FDI limit in the telecom sector to 74 per cent), then keeping spectrum prices artificially low (by removing spectrum pricing from the ToR of GoM), and doing so in tandem with movement of applications of Maxis from allocation stage to licence stage.”

Keywords: 2G scam

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