Indian PM wins backing over telecoms scandal | Pakistan Today

Indian PM wins backing over telecoms scandal

NEW DELHI: India’s ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday staunchly defended Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against accusations he failed to act over a massive telecom corruption scandal.
Gandhi, the key powerbroker of Indian politics, said Singh was above reproach in the controversy, which the country’s audit watchdog estimates deprived the public treasury up to 40 billion dollars in lost revenues. “It is shameful that a person of the integrity of the prime minister should be targeted in this manner,” Gandhi said in a rare encounter with reporters outside her sprawling bungalow home in central New Delhi.
“Everyone knows the prime minister is 100 percent above board,” she said. Singh, whose reputation for probity has mostly kept him clear of India’s mud-slinging politics, is accused of failing to intervene when telecoms minister A. Raja sold second-generation (2G) mobile phone licences for a fraction of their value in 2008.
Gandhi, whose backing secured Singh the premiership in 2004, rounded on the prime minister’s critics as the Supreme Court deferred a ruling on his handling of the scandal that has paralysed parliament for nearly two weeks. GE Vahanvati, the attorney general, acting on Singh’s behalf in court, said the prime minister had dealt correctly with a demand by a prominent opposition lawmaker to prosecute Raja.
The court has sought further submissions on issues raised at the hearing, Vahanvati told reporters on Wednesday. The court did not say when it would issue its ruling, after last week in a rare move asking Singh to explain his “alleged inaction and silence for 16 months” on the request to prosecute Raja. Under Indian law, the prime minister must approve criminal proceedings against any cabinet member.
During Wednesday’s hearing, lawyers for the Supreme Court and the federal Central Bureau of Investigation discussed how the court could monitor an ongoing police investigation into the licence allotments. The move is seen as a possible compromise the government could offer to the opposition which is demanding a cross-party probe as a price for allowing parliament to resume debate.
Raja stepped down earlier this month, denying any wrongdoing in the scandal that has put the spotlight on links between some of India’s biggest business names, lobbyists and lawmakers.

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