Former Telecom Minister A Raja, accused in the 2G spectrum case, has said he is ready to live his entire life in jail if any ill-gotten money is found with him.
Raja, who is contesting the Lok Sabha Elections from The Niligiris in Tamil Nadu, cited a report published an English daily in 2011 quoting CBI sources that he had kept Rs 3,000 crore abroad. “The same day I went to the judge, showed him the newspaper report and said I want to challenge Income Tax, Enforcement Directorate and CBI if they find one rupee or a dollar in my name, I will not contest the case and I will live my entire life in jail,” India TV quoted Raja as saying in a release on his interview.
Raja was arrested on February 2, 2011 and is under trial in an alleged mutli-crore 2G scam by CBI. He is out on bail now.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had estimated that 2G licences allocated to companies under the tenure of Raja in 2008 caused the government a notional loss of about Rs 1.76 lakh crore. The calculations were based on the auction price that government got for 3G spectrum in 2010.
“The CAG failed to differentiate between 2G and 3G. 2G is meant for voice and 3G is meant for data (internet) transfer. You can’t compare PDS rice with Basmati rice. The rates will be definitely be different,” Raja said. The Supreme Court on February 2, 2012 cancelled all licences allocated in 2008 and ordered fresh auction to allocate spectrum at market determined rates.
The auction of spectrum in November, 2012 and March, 2013 fetched bids of about Rs 13,000 crore. The last auction for 1800 Mhz (widely known as 2G spectrum) in February fetched government bids worth Rs 37,572 crore which as per present policy can also be used for 4G services.
Raja said whatever media portrayed as the biggest corruption is largely based on assumptions and not on the basis of record.
The former telecom minister alleged business cartels, whose business were going to be affected by 2G spectrum allocation, have targetted him.
“I think they might have been afraid of what Raja was going to do will have complete aberration on the business network that was created by these people. They may be afraid of, (and) injected through the media that Raja is doing this, this wrong,” Raja said.
Raja claimed that it was because of him telecom call rates lowered to 50 paise per call. Basic call rates, without any scheme, are now 2 paise per second across most of the mobile operators. “I am challenging through this forum. Let all these institutions come together (and say) Raja did wrong, Prime Minister’s Office, Union Cabinet, Parliament, Planning Commission, CAG, CBI, Supreme Court, in all factors that were indicated in the charge-sheet,” Raja said.