Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal today attacked BJP leader Yashwant Sinha for making 'wild and baseless' allegations of a scam in the TRAI's recommendations for a cut in spectrum pricing, saying such statements were being made with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections.
"Yashwant Sinha smells a scam around the corner at every stage. Previously, I remember the BJP targeted the government, saying that TRAI recommendations were not accepted and therefore there is a scam. Now, if the government were to partially accept TRAI's recommendations, there is a scam," he told reporters here.
With two rounds of spectrum auction flopping due to high reserve or base prices, the TRAI last month recommended a cut of up to 60 per cent in the start price for the sale of airwaves.
The Telecom Commission in Sibal's ministry last week partially modified the recommendation by suggesting to an Empowered Group of Ministers that the reserve price for 1,800 MHz airwaves be hiked by 15 per cent for pan-India spectrum and by 25 per cent in key circles such as Delhi and Mumbai.
Even after the increase, the spectrum prices are way below the base price of the previous two auctions.
Sinha, in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, claimed the cut in spectrum price by the TRAI could result in a revenue loss of as much as Rs 35,000 crore to the exchequer.
He added that even with the recommendations of the Telecom Commission, the potential loss to the national exchequer could amount to Rs 27,000 crore.
"Previously, they said the process was not followed, there was a scam. Now when the process is being followed, there is a scam. Yashwant Sinha should tell us how to auction spectrum and at what price because he seems to be an expert in everything. Yashwant Sinha should think before he makes wild and baseless allegations," Sibal said.
Sinha alleged in the letter that the steep reduction in spectrum reserve price and spectrum usage charges was being proposed to favour a few operators at the cost of the national exchequer.
The Telecom Minister said the BJP is raking up such issues as elections are around the corner.
"Yashwant Sinha has to say this because he fears unless he keeps on repeating it ad nauseam, we may still have UPA 3. He doesn't want UPA 3 to come," he added.