Rohit Kumar's Views

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Posts Tagged ‘cross-party investigation

India police raid minister’s homes in telecoms probe

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NEW DELHI – Indian police on Wednesday raided two homes of a former telecoms minister who is alleged to have sold off mobile phone licences at knock-down prices in a scam that cost the government billions of dollars.

A spokesman for the Central Bureau of Investigation said A. Raja’s residences in the capital New Delhi and in his constituency in the southern state of Tamil Nadu were searched by police.

Raja, who resigned last month, is accused of changing bidding rules to favour selected companies who were often ineligible to compete for the lucrative second-generation (2G) mobile phone licences.

The licences were sold in 2008 at cut-price rates that denied the treasury up to 40 billion dollars in lost revenue, according to the national auditor.

The scandal, which could prove to be the biggest corruption case in India’s history, has engulfed the Congress-led ruling coalition and is seen as one of the government’s most serious setbacks since it came to power six years ago.

In a campaign for a cross-party investigation, the main opposition parties have stalled parliament for weeks.

The government has refused to agree, saying that the police and state anti-corruption bodies are both investigating the sales.

Raja belongs to a regional party that is key to the Congress alliance holding onto power, prompting accusations that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was slow to act against him after the 2G sell-off.

Raja’s lawyer, T.R. Andhyarujina, told the Supreme Court last week that his client had only been following procedures established by previous ministers.

Indian parties fail to end Parliament deadlock

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NEW DELHI – India’s ruling party on Monday called an all-party meeting to try to break a deadlock which has seen opposition lawmakers repeatedly halt parliament over allegations of massive corruption.

India’s ruling party has called an all-party meeting to try to break a parliamentary deadlock

Parliament was again adjourned for the day as the opposition disrupted proceedings to demand a cross-party investigation into the 2008 sale of 2G telecom licences for a fraction of their value.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has denied accusations that he failed to act over the multi-billion-dollar scandal and has vowed to punish anyone found guilty of graft.

But Singh’s Congress-led government has refused to agree to the joint parliamentary probe, saying a separate inquiry was already under way.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee invited leaders of all parties to the meeting in an attempt to allow parliamentary business — including passing economic reforms — to resume, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told AFP.

India’s chief auditing body declared last week that the sale of the 2G telecom licences by the then telecoms minister A. Raja lost the country up to 40 billion dollars.

The Comptroller and Auditor General said that the allocation of licences at discount rates to select firms was done in an “arbitrary, unfair and inequitable manner”.