After Pranab Mukherjee’s departure from EGoM following his nomination as the Presidential candidate and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar’s resignation within days because he is being targeted in 2G scam, the onus is now on the home minister P Chidambaram to head the ministerial panel on telecom.
The EGoM has Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and others.
Interestingly, the Tamil Nadu politician has been targeted by the BJP and the Janata Dal President Subramanian Swamy for his alleged role in 2G spectrum allocation case. Swamy has been targeting him for being party to all the decisions that the former telecom minister and the prime accused A Raja took.
Chidambaram got relief when earlier this year, a Delhi court rejected a plea by Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy, who had unleashed a relentless campaign to make Chidambaram an accused in 2G case.Chidambaram was finance minister in 2007 and 2008, when 2G spectrum licences were allocated.
Apart from the decision on base or reserve price, the EGoM is expected to deliberate if telecom companies can mortgage spectrum or airwaves for seeking loans from the banks and financial institutions.
The decision taken by this EGoM will set the tone for telecom industry which is facing uncertainty and threat from foreign investors to exit from country if the decision does not suits them.
The high spectrum price has been vehemently opposed by telecom lobbies. The industry feels that high spectrum price will increase the tariff of telecom services in the range of 30 to 100%.