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June 10, 1999
Jagmohan denies he was lobbied out of ministryUrban Development Minister Jagmohan today denied that he had been shifted out of the communications ministry at the behest of a business lobby even as he accused cellular and basic telephone operators of backtracking on contractual obligations.
''They (telephone operators) had signed an agreement with the government... They had also given their bids. Why are they not ready to fulfil their contractual obligations... What is the sanctity of the contract,'' he asked soon after he assumed charge as urban development minister at Nirman Bhavan in New Delhi.
He did not agree with a suggestion that a business lobby was responsible for shifting him out of the communications ministry by pressurising Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
''Your presumption is wrong that somebody is happy or unhappy with me,'' Jagmohan said when a questioner asked him if he had not had a ''bitter experience'' in the communications ministry.
The change in portfolio is a routine matter and one should not draw much significance into it, he said. ''This (portfolio) is the prerogative of the president and the prime minister,'' he pointed out.
Jagmohan regretted that the press was reducing everything to controversy over licensing for the telecom sector without appreciating what has been done in the communications ministry during his tenure.
He said he had attempted to enforce rules and regulations in all that he did in the communications ministry. ''I am supposed to work within the ambit of the Constitution and the law to give an effective governance and I will continue with this policy.''
He also did not give much credence to reports that overzealous officials in the Prime Minister's Office had played a role in his transfer from the communications ministry to the urban development ministry.
''I always keep good relations with everyone,'' he said when asked to comment on his relations with officials in the PMO.
Asked to spell out his priorities as urban development minister, he said all welfare programmes would be given importance. ''I would like to go by deeds rather than words... I believe in effective governance and planned development. The future of the country depends on how we develop our cities,'' he added.
Jagmohan said he would like to do his best in the urban development ministry, keeping in mind the ground realities.
Asked if the three-month period before the general election was sufficient time for him to achieve the desired results in the ministry, he said ''I believe in being judged by my work... You can see my performance in the telecom department.''
Jagmohan, who visited various government colonies this morning prior to assuming charge of his office, said he had no intention of reopening the controversial decision of his predecessor Ram Jethmalani, allowing conversion of free hold property into leasehold in Delhi.
He also clarified that the decision had nothing to do with the impending election.
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