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Many telecom flip flops happened during BJP regime: Tata

Last updated on: December 9, 2010 17:46 IST

Many telecom flip flops happened during BJP regime: Tata

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Tata Group supremo Ratan Tata on Thursday termed as "politically motivated" the efforts of the GSM lobbyists, including Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, saying their endeavour was to embarrass the Prime Minster Manmohan Singh and the ruling party.

Taking the powerful GSM operators head on for what he termed as holding of spectrum free of cost, Tata said, "Recent policy (allocation of licences in 2008) broke the powerful cartel which has been holding back competition and delaying the implementation of policies."

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Image: Ratan Tata.

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Coming out in support of the government telecom policy, which is being litigated in the Supreme Court, Tata said, "We should all note that many of the flip-flops in the telecom policies occurred during the BJP regime."

Tata's strong comments came in an open letter to former telecom entrepreneur and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar who had hit out at Tata in an open letter for allegedly not being transparent and being one of the biggest beneficiaries of the government telecom policy.

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Image: Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

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"Your affiliation to a particular political party is well-known and it appears that political aspirations and their endeavour to embarrass the Prime Minister and the ruling party may well have been the motivation behind your letter," Tata told Chandrasekhar.

Former Telecom Minister A Raja or for that matter any minister has not extended any advantage to group company Tata Teleservices, he said.

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Image: Tata Indicom office.

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Chandrasekhar is a former telecom entrepreneur who built BPL Group's telecom business from scratch and fought many wars on regulations before cashing out a few years ago.

His letter seeks to convey the impression that the Tata Group kept quiet when it stood to benefit from violations of norms, such as when companies with fixed telephony licences managed get into the mobile space nine years ago.

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Image: A Raja.

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"Your positions in the recent interviews seem to be in stark contrast with the actual conduct, performance and position of Tata's telecom companies," the letter said.

In response, a spokesperson for Tata Teleservices, the telecom arm of the group, said Chandrasekhar's letter was devoid of facts and just meant to sensationalise matters.

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Image: War over spectrum continues.

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I support the ongoing the investigation (into 2G spectrum allocation scam) and believe that period of probe should be extended to 2001, Tata said.

Tata, who at present is abroad, said the open letter by Chandrasekhar was "of course in keeping with the current trend of attempted character assassination through widespread media publicity couched in paid and concern for upholding ethics and values".

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Image: Ratan Tata.

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Chandrasekhar had accused Tatas of adopting double standards and had said in an open letter to Ratan Tata that by virtue of dual technology, according to the CAG, Tata Teleservices (TTSL) has caused a loss to the exchequer to the tune of about Rs 19,074.80 crore (Rs 190.74 billion).

On the issue of "out of turn" allotment to TTSL (as claimed by Chandrasekhar), Tata said, "You have chosen to misrepresent the facts as they suit you to justify the claims you have made."

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Image: Ratan Tata.

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The true position is that TTSL has not "I repeat not" been advantaged in any way by Raja or any earlier minister.

"The company has strictly followed the applicable policy and has been severely disadvantaged... by certain powerful politically connected operators who have willfully subverted policy under various telecom ministers which has been subsequently been regularised to their advantage," Tata said.

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Image: A Raja.

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TTSL is yet to get spectrum in the key Delhi circle and also in 39 other districts.

The 2G scam ostensibly revolved around Raja's alleged misdeeds and some parts of the CAG report were quoted as having indicted the minister, Tata said, adding "much has been made about the hypothetical loss to the exchequer in the grant of new licences and the grant of spectrum on the basis of 3G auction price.

He asked Chandrasekhar why he chose not to mention about the excess spectrum held by powerful GSM operators and that too free of cost.

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Image: TTSL has not gained.

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"You have also not noticed that the CAG has not ascribed value to 48 new GSM licencees issued to incumbents between 2004-08 and 65 MHz of additional spectrum alloted to them during this period even though the CAG was supposed to cover the period from 2003," he said in the open letter.

He claimed that Tatas have not "wavered in upholding our values and ethical standards" despite the erosion in the ethical fabric in the country and despite the efforts of others to draw the group into controversy and endeavour to besmirch its records.

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Image: CAG has not ascribed value to 48 new GSM licencees.

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"When the present sensational smokescreen dies down, as it will, and the true facts emerge, it will be for the people of India to determine who are the culprits that enjoy political patronage and protection and who actually subvert policy and who have dual standards.

"I can hold my head high and say that neither the Tata Group or I have at any time been involved in any of these misdeeds," Tata said.


Image: Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Reuters.
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