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2G Scam: Raja, Radia get call from CBI
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
The CBI today asked former telecom minister A Raja to appear before it for questioning in what many believe is the beginning of legal troubles for him and could see him being made an accused in the 2G scam.

Controversial corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, whose leaked tapes have revealed her aggressive lobbying to get Raja telecom portfolio in 2009 when the UPA came back to power, would also be questioned. Former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman Pradip Baijal, a retired IAS officer of 1966 batch, was today questioned for more than three hours and a visibly upset Baijal said he had answered CBI’s questions. When asked to explain by the waiting media, he retorted: “Don’t you understand English”, as he emerged from the CBI headquarters. A CBI spokesperson said Raja could appear before them either tomorrow or day after and the axed minister told reporters in Chennai that he would be cooperating with investigators and termed the summons as procedural matter which should not be held against him.

A senior CBI official, however, said they had evidence which “strengthened doubts” that he was involved in favouring a few companies over others by laying down arbitrary rules, which caused a loss running into hundreds of crores of rupees to the exchequer. The CBI wants Raja to answer why he abruptly changed the spectrum allocation in 2007-08 to first-come-first-serve basis, which caught many operators off-guard, as by the time they prepared the draft and fulfilled other procedures, it was too late. Curiously, many companies rushed to the telecom department with all formalities completed in no time, which suggested that they had most likely been told about the impending policy change in advance.

The other questionable decision of Raja was to stick to the spectrum rates of 2001 even as the telecom revolution in the interim had made spectrum a much more coveted entity and a new rate revised to its current valuation in 2007-08 could have fetched the government hundreds of billions in rupees as additional revenue. Raja, who was forced to quit on November 14, would also have to answer for the change in fortunes of his kin and associates who allegedly floated companies to benefit from the Raja’s portfolio and made lots of money by all evidence. The CBI has to file a status report before the Supreme Court on its probe into the 2G scam by February 2010.

The apex court is monitoring the investigation and the agency, which has received a lot of flak from the court, is keen to produce a positive report card before it. The CBI’s original case is against unidentified accused and its probe was almost moribund before a the SC intervened, resulting in raids on the premises of Raja, Radia, Baijal and a host of former officials and kin and associates of the suspects.





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