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Indian minister quits over corruption charges

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M&C

New Delhi – India’s Telecommunications Minister Andimuthu Raja has resigned following allegations of corruption in the sale of licences to domestic mobile phone operators, officials said Monday.

Raja is from the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) party, a key ally of the federal United Progressive Alliance government. He resigned late Sunday.

‘In order to avoid embarrassment to the government and maintain peace and harmony in the parliament, my leader (DMK chief M Karunanidhi) has advised me to resign,’ he said.

‘I will prove my innocence, I did everything in accordance with the law,’ the 47-year-old politician said.

The resignation followed days of opposition protests and a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General that said Raja allotted second-generation spectrum licenses to nine domestic operators at below-market prices in 2008.

Opposition parties said that resulted in a loss of nearly 40 billion dollars to the treasury.

Jayanthi Natarajan, spokeswoman of the Congress Party that leads the UPA coalition, said Monday that Raja’s resignation would not affect the party’s ‘strong’ alliance with the DMK.

The Congress Party, in power since 2004, faces a string of corruption scandals.

Last week, Ashok Chavan, the chief minister of the western state of Maharashtra, resigned over his alleged role in a scam involving homes for war widows.

Indian Commonwealth Games organizer Suresh Kalmadi also quit his party post over corruption allegations from the October event.

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