The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
The shifting out of the Communications Minister, Mr. Jagmohan, by the caretaker Vajpayee government, is not an ordinary reshuffle in the cabinet. The removal of the communications minister has been done at the behest of powerful big business companies who owe the government Rs 4,500 crores for cellular and basic phone licence fees and other back payments. The Prime Minister, Atal Bihar Vajpayee has tarnished his image by resorting to this blatant act of favouritism on behalf of big business. The communications ministry has been correctly demanding that cellular phone operators pay the licence fees contracted by them, failing which their bank guarantees would be encashed. So far due to this stand taken by the ministry over Rs 1,000 crore of defaulted payments have been recovered. Desperate efforts were made by the private phone operators to get this policy changed.
The people of this country will note how the BJP-led government has with alacrity succumbed to this shameful pressure while at the same time defending the indefensible stand of the defence minister George Fernandes on the Kargil affair.
The Prime Minister's office will have no right whatsoever to change in any manner the decisions taken by the communications ministry to recover all the dues owed by the defaulting phone companies. As a caretaker government, any move to dilute the policy would mean that corrupt practices are being indulged in view of the elections.
The people of the country will look up to the President of India to ensure that the PM's office is not allowed to manipulate policy to enrich and protect defaulting companies.