New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking to reporters on board his plane on the way back from New York, admitted that the decision to keep the spectrum pricing issue from the purview of a Group of Ministers in 2006 was done on the word of former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran.
It was a move that made many ask if the Prime Minister had acted under pressure from his crucial ally, the DMK.
"It is certainly true that one draft was prepared. It did include spectrum prices," Singh told reporters while returning from his New York trip.
He said Maran had then objected, saying "spectrum pricing is bread and butter and the integral part of the terms of the business of his (Telecom) department."
"And in any case a large group of ministers in the GoM sitting here are not going to be able to deal effectively with the complicated and technical aspects involved," Singh said quoting Maran.
"Further it was pointed out to me that there was a Cabinet decision of 2003, which said that spectrum price is a matter which should be discussed between the Finance Ministry and Telecom Ministry. And relying upon them I came to the conclusion that by agreeing with the minister Dayanidhi Maran's point of view Singhwould not amount to sacrifice of anything, which is essential and integral to the success of the process," the Prime Minister added.
He said it all happened 'way back' in 2006. "At that time, licenses were more than the spectrum available. The real concern of the government at that point was how we should persuade the defence ministry to maintain the spectrum and that Spectrum should be spared to the civilian economy." Singh was responding when pointed out that Opposition is levelling charge of personal culpability over change of terms of reference of the GoM to exclude spectrum pricing.
With additional information from PTI