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Chidambaram meets Sonia, offers to resign: TV reports

Posted by on 27 September 2011

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NEW DELHI: Home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram offered to resign on Monday, several TV channels said, days after a document emerged that suggested he failed to stop a multi-billion dollar telecoms scam that has rocked the government.

Chidambaram told Congress president Sonia Gandhi he wanted to resign to avoid embarrassing the party, CNN-IBN reported citing unnamed sources.

A scandal over the sale of 2G telecoms licences at rock bottom prices in 2007 when Chidambaram was finance minister has damaged the government's credibility and already landed one former minister and company executives in jail.

A finance ministry memo made public last week implied Chidambaram failed to rectify the underpriced sale of telecoms licences that lost the treasury up to $39 billion.

An analyst said Sonia was unlikely to accept the resignation of Chidambaram because it would be seen as admitting that the government erred in the telecoms deal.

He has offered to step down over other issues in the past. Former telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja was arrested and imprisoned in February in connection with the telecom scandal, one of a string of corruption allegations involving the Congress party-led government.

Raja denies any wrongdoing. The memo, written by the finance ministry and sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this year, suggests Chidambaram in 2008 chose not to revise the underpriced telecoms deals despite recommendations from other officials to do so.

The note was approved by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, considered by many to be a rival to Chidambaram in the cabinet.

Mukherjee on Monday said Chidambaram was a valued colleague, as he entered a meeting with Gandhi about the memo, TV channels reported.

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