Saturday, November 20, 2010

PM faces tough questions on Raja scam

Why did Prime Minister Manmohan Singh take 16 months to respond to a request for permission to prosecute his telecom minister A Raja in the 2G spectrum scam, the Supreme Court asked on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s lead story in Deccan Herald says:
The Manmohan Singh government’s calculation that it would squirm out of the massive telecom scam by sacrificing A Raja has gone awry with the Supreme Court… directly holding the prime minister responsible for keeping the scandal suppressed for 16 months…
The Comptroller Auditor-General’s report, tabled in parliament on Tuesday, brought to light more irregularities in the allocation of spectrum.
The government auditor says 85 of 122 applicants licences were ineligible but still were given licences. That means 70 per cent of all licences given by A Raja as telecom minister in January 2008 ought to have been rejected. The Times of India reported:
According to CAG, these applications fall into three categories — those that are incomplete, those that have wrong information and those that suppressed facts. The CAG report minced no words while saying, “The companies used fraudulent means to get access to spectrum”.
Former telecom minister Arun Shourie made another stunning charge: Raja brazenly signed agreements drafted by telecom companies. The BJP leader also said the  CBI clearly knows who handled the bribe money.
NDTV reports Shourie’s conversation with Shekhar Gupta:
Shourie: The CBI knows to such an extent that the officer has said that these companies’ representatives used to bring the note which he should sign on a pen drive. It used to be put into my computer, a print taken and Raja would sign it. To this detail the CBI knows. CBI knows the identity of the front companies that were used.
Shekhar: Front companies for money transactions…bribe transactions?
Shourie: I would have no doubt, otherwise they are not doing charity here…and the correspondence is there. The correspondence of the licenses being given and the company suddenly prospering…they suddenly become very great consultants…they suddenly get very great infrastructure projects…they can’t show which is the bridge they have built…the CBI knows the identity of the critical person who handled the money and it is a mystery to the other officers as to why a particular officer has not been questioned to this date.

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