Indian Telecoms minister quits over licence row

Monday, 15 November 2010 22:09 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Telecoms Minister Andimuthu Raja resigned from his post on Sunday, local media reported, after allegations that the government had given out lucrative telecoms licences at low prices.

Raja’s political party DMK is one of the largest partners in the ruling Congress-led coalition government and its support is crucial for the government’s majority.

“In order to avoid embarrassment to the government and maintain peace and harmony in parliament, my leader (DMK chief M. Karunanidhi) has advised me to resign,” Raja was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

Raja could not be reached for comment. Janardan Dwivedi, a spokesman for Congress party, declined to comment.

Parliament had been repeatedly stalled as the opposition demanded Raja’s resignation and an investigation into the allocation of licences.

Raja’s resignation follows Congress’ sacking of two senior members over other corruption allegations, in a bid to repair the party’s image ahead of a series of state elections critical to the coalition’s strength.

There have been a string of corruption scandals during six years of Congress party rule and few have been brought to justice.