Just days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed him as the chairman of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) looking into the grant of licences and allocation of spectrum in 2G band,Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar recused himself today.
Attempts have been made in the past to unnecessarily drag me into the controversy on 2G spectrum. These allegations are false and ill-motivated,which I have firmly refuted, said Pawar in a letter to the Prime Minister.
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 into the controversy… As such I thought it will be appropriate for me to recuse myself from the position of chairman of EGoM, he wrote.
Pawar was today scheduled to chair his first meeting of the reconstituted EGoM after replacing Pranab Mukherjee. However,the meeting was postponed.
In a statement issued later in the day,Pawar said the PM had agreed to relieve him from the responsibility of chairman of the EGoM.
Earlier,Pawar was alleged to have links with the DB Group-promoted Swan Telecom,reported to be a beneficiary of the 2G scam when A Raja was the telecom minister.
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 they 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.