Former telecom minister A. Raja told a Delhi court on Tuesday that former prime minister Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet members were “completely under confusion” created by “vested interests” about policy and procedure of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) in the allocation of 2G spectrum. Deposing as a witness to defend himself in the ongoing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case, Raja, an accused, told the court that he had held many discussions with the then prime minister and explained to him the policy and legal framework governing the issuance of licences and allotment of spectrum.
He also claimed that he had told Singh that there was a “cartel force” wanting to stop legitimate efforts of the DoT to boost tele-density and reduce tariff in the country by injecting competition. “I further disclosed (to PM) how pressure was put on me through legal and other means to restrain myself from these efforts. The prime minister told me that he got the letter (sent by Raja in November 2007) and it was discussed at length in the PMO, where a separate joint secretary is posted to look after DoT to apprise PM of all these issues,” Raja told special CBI judge O.P. Saini.
“I submitted relevant papers in a folder to the prime minister. Further he told me that members of the Cabinet were also completely under confusion created by vested interests and he handed over a letter to me which was written by Kamal Nath, the then Union minister, addressed to prime minister, which raised the same issues and wanted constitution of a group of ministers on these issues (relating to the policy and procedure of DoT),” he said.
Raja, whose deposition will continue on Wednesday, also told the court that he had “further felt that the Prime Minister/ PMO was completely misguided by the vested interests, who had taken the same stand before TDSAT on the issues”.
“In Parliament also, such confusing questions were asked by MPs at the behest of vested interests. So, I took the issue seriously and replied to the prime minister on the same day (on November 2, 2007) by writing the aforesaid letter. Explaining the correct legal position,” he said.