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A Raja Arrested Over Indian Telecoms Scandal

A Raja Arrested Over Indian Telecoms Scandal

India’s embattled former telecoms minister, Andimuthu Raja has been arrested, along with two of his former aides, over the telecoms licensing scandal that is claimed to have cost the government as much as US$40 billion in lost license fee revenues.

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said it arrested A Raja, R.K. Chandolia, Raja’s then personal secretary, and former telecom secretary Siddartha Behura earlier today (Wednesday). A spokesman of the CBI confirmed that Raja was arrested “due to irregularities in the allocation” of mobile licences and spectrum. He will be in court on Thursday to face the charges.

Raja is also a senior member of the ruling Congress party and his arrest may destabilize the coalition governing the country after the Party initially supported Raja and only put pressure on him to resign as telecoms minister last November when the scandal became too loud to ignore. The opposition parties have been blocking Parliamentary business until an independent investigation is held into the license scandal.

“I only wish that the prime minister, instead of living in denial, had acted three years ago so this huge loss to the public exchequer had not taken place,” Arun Jaitley, leader of the opposition BJP in the upper house, said.

It has been estimated that up to 85 of the 122 licenses handed out in 2008 by A Raja could be invalid, while other companies who lost out due to arbitrary changes in the application deadline have themselves not ruled out suing for their losses.

Raja has persistently denied any wrong-doing, saying that he followed government policy and expects that he will prove his innocence.

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