India opposition wants probe in telecom case

NEW DELHI - Opposition leaders on Thursday called for India’s Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram to face a federal probe after a government memo suggests he failed to rectify the underpriced sale of telecoms licenses that lost the treasury up to $39 billion.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Thu 22 Sep 2011, 3:59 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:54 AM

“A CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) inquiry has become necessary,” said Subramanian Swamy, leader of the small opposition Janata Party leader who presented the document to the Supreme Court which is reviewing the terms of the sale.

Chidambaram was finance minister in 2007 when companies were awarded 2G telecoms deals at rock-bottom prices.

The memo, written by the finance ministry and sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this year, suggests Chidambaram in 2008 chose not to revise the underpriced telecoms deals despite recommendations from other officials to do so.

Former telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja was arrested and imprisoned in February in connection with the telecom scandal, one of a string of corruption allegations involving the Congress Party-led government.

Raja denies any wrongdoing.

The Supreme Court will decide in the coming days whether the note is sufficient grounds to order an investigation into Chidambaram, though B. Devashekhar, a lawyer at the court consulted by Reuters, said the court was unlikely to be consider the note as relevant evidence.

The Congress party stood by Chidambaram.

“The Congress party does not question Mr. Chidambaram’s integrity,” party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters.

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