Communications and Information Technology Minister A. Raja on Friday countered the BJP's charge against him on corruption in spectrum allocation and charged the Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime with causing Rs.1.6-lakh crore loss to the exchequer by allocating radio waves free to private telecom operators.
Mr. Raja said there was no question of his resigning from the Ministry as whatever he had done was as per the laid guidelines and duly approved by the Cabinet.
“Allegations that the country has suffered a loss of thousands of crores under my tenure are totally baseless. In fact, what happened under the BJP-led government is the *biggest scam ever' the country has seen.”
“The BJP-led NDA government gave scare spectrum for free to the then existing operators sans any approval of the Cabinet or from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India [TRAI]. It favoured certain companies by allocating them more spectrum, causing monopoly of the then existing players in the market and hampering competition.
Almost 230 MHz of spectrum was illegally doled out in this manner under the NDA government,” he said.
Mr. Raja alleged that both his predecessors in the NDA government — Pramod Mahajan and Arun Shourie — violated all norms and guidelines to favour private operators and caused loss of thousands of crores to the exchequer.
“They allowed the operators to use more efficient bandwidth, without taking any policy decision or proper approvals, to help them reduce their capital expenditure; but in turn, the government got no revenue from them. Similarly, they reduced the licence fee by 2 per cent in terms of AGR for all the operators and by further 2 per cent for the first and second operators, resulting in conservatively estimated loss of Rs. 900 crore,” he said.
“The NDA government is responsible for its irrational decision. The availability of spectrum was first put on the coffers without any disclosure. And ultimately, very cleverly and conveniently existing spectrum of 500 MHz was shared with the operators by the then NDA Ministry,” Mr. Raja added.
Taking on BJP's senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who had called for his resignation, Mr. Raja said the fact was that he fought in favour of some new players in the court seeking end to monopoly of old players.
“It was me who allowed the competition in the telecom sector, which led to fall in tariffs and better services, while the NDA government promoted monopoly. It seems Mr. Jaitley's legal brain is fighting his political brain. I do not know what will be the outcome ... whether the legal brain will win or the political one,” Mr. Raja said.