Uproar over alleged involvement of lobbyist in 2G spectrum allocation

Parliament on Wednesday witnessed uproarious scenes with the Opposition demanding the dismissal of Communications Minister A. Raja, citing reports in a section of the press that alleged the involvement of a corporate lobbyist in the 2G spectrum allocation in 2008 and a massive loss to the exchequer.

While the Rajya Sabha witnessed two adjournments, the Lok Sabha saw one.

All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leaders, M. Thambi Durai in the Lok Sabha and V. Maitreyan in the Rajya Sabha, raised the issue.

They alleged that Mr. Raja's “wrong policies” caused huge losses to the government and sought an explanation from the Prime Minister. They were joined by BJP and Left members.

As members continued to disrupt the proceedings in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee intervened to promise that the government would respond to all issues raised by them, including the 2G spectrum, after the passage of the Finance Bill on Thursday.

As soon as the House assembled for the day, the AIADMK and Left members rushed to its well, displaying copies of the media report and the newspaper and demanding the sacking of the Minister. Mr. Raja was not present in the House, but DMK members, led by T.R. Baalu, protested against the allegations.

In the Rajya Sabha, the AIADMK members wanted question hour to be set aside for taking up a discussion on the subject. Chairman Hamid Ansari said they should have given notice for a discussion.

At this point, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley intervened to seek the government's response to “whether some corporate lobbyists were influencing allocation of portfolios of Ministers and whether the 2G spectrum allocation was guided by these forces.”

Mr. Jaitley said that earlier when the phone tapping issue came up, the Home Minister gave a statement in the House saying that the government did not authorise any tapping of phones of politicians. “However, after going through media reports, it seems that it [tapping] is very much authorised and contents of conversations are easily available,” he said.

CPI(M) member Sitaram Yechury too sought a response from the government. BJP's Venkaiah Naidu, Prakash Javadekar and S. S. Ahluwalia also joined the AIADMK members.

Observing that the question hour was being adjourned repeatedly, Mr Ansari said, “If the House feels that the question hour is so irrelevant, then I will shift it by invoking Rule 38, a decision on which I will take in the course of the day.” Saying this, he adjourned the House till noon. When it re-assembled, pandemonium continued, leading to the second adjournment.

Mr. Raja has been facing allegations ever since nine new telecom licences and spectrum were issued in January 2008.

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