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Congress turns defensive after SC telecom scam verdict

Lucknow, Thu, 02 Feb 2012 ANI

Lucknow, Feb 2 (ANI): A defensive Congress Party went into a huddle on Thursday over the latest Supreme Court verdict that quashed all 122 licenses granted to telecom operators under a scandal-tainted 2008 sale.


Defending the government, senior Congress leader and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said: "The attack of the opposition does not matter to us, since the matter is already in the court. The court will take its own decision. As far as the opposition is concerned, it says things without knowing anything. It is their habit of unnecessarily reacting on everything by giving their own interpretations."


The ruling has come as a major setback for Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's government, which oversaw the sale of the licenses at below-market prices, costing the exchequer up to 36 billion dollars in lost revenues.


The Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister, claiming that the ruling vindicates their stand on the multi-billion dollar telecom scam case.


The Supreme Court's landmark ruling comes as a fresh embarrassment for the government while plunging the mobile network market of Asia's third-largest economy into uncertainty, besides giving the opposition more political ammunition against the Congress party.


The licences affected by Thursday's ruling include all of those held by Unitech Wireless, the Indian joint venture of Norway's Telenor and Unitech. Thirteen licences held by Idea Cellular and three held by Tata Teleservices are also affected by the ruling.


Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd and Videcon Telecommunications, part of India's Videocon group are also affected, along with Etisalat DB, the joint venture between Abu Dhabi's Etisalat and India's DB group; and S-Tel.


Meanwhile, Congress general secretary, B K Hariprasad said in New Delhi that the BJP's tirade was clearly an instance of the pot calling the kettle black.


"The opposition's demand of resignation of the government and the Prime Minister clearly exposes their hypocrisy. In the BJP-ruled states, more than half a dozen of their workers are in prison. Its own chief minister has gone to jail. Criminal complaints are also pending against several of their former ministers," said Hariprasad.


Former telecom minister and prime accused in the case A Raja, who presided over the 2008 grant process, was forced to resign in 2010 following a massive political outcry over the issue.


India is the second-largest cellular market in the world by subscribers, with 894 million at the end of December, although the market is crowded with more than a dozen operators, making call rates among the lowest in the world and squeezing margins. (ANI)


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