DAYS after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed NCP chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar as the chairman of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) looking into the grant of licences and allocation of spectrum in 2G band,Pawar wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today seeking to recuse himself.
Attempts have been made in the past to unnecessarily drag me in the controversy on 2G spectrum. These allegations are false and ill-motivated,which I have firmly refuted, says Pawar in his letter. At this juncture,I believe that my association in the decision-making process as the chairman of EGoM on telecom will motivate vested elements to try to drag me in the controversy.
The letter adds: As such I thought it will be appropriate for me to recuse myself from the position of chairman of EGoM.
While the EGoM was slated to meet today,the meeting was postponed without citing any reason.
Pawars decision comes at a time when the Cabinet is slated to take a call at its meeting tomorrow on whether telcos are to be charged for the extra spectrum they hold above 4.4 MHz or whether this should be 6.2 MHz.
Alternatively,the Cabinet may also consider a proposal on whether the government should ask the telecom firms to pay for all the spectrum they hold based on the auction price,with the reasoning that all firms will get a level playing field once they have paid for the spectrum thay have held for 20 years.
However,different telecom firms have objected to the proposals moved by the telecom ministry. Parties like the Samajawadi Party have also put forth their objections to some of the proposals.
The issue has been hanging fire since earlier this year,when the Supreme Court cancelled all the 122 telecom licences granted when A Raja was the telecom minister.
Pawar was alleged to have links to the DB Group-promoted Swan Telecom,which has been charged with receiving largesse during the allocation of 2G spectrum licences during Rajas tenure.