Prasad hits out at Vodafone for 'dictating' terms to India on AGR ruling

Ravi Shankar Prasad

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday hit out at British telco Vodafone for "dictating" terms to India when it threatened of withdrawing from the Indian market following a SC ruling.

He also said Mahanagar Telecom Nagar Ltd and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd are strategic assets that should remain in the fray and ensure better competition.

After the Supreme Court's ruling on the adjusted gross revenues (AGR) last month that created a liability of Rs 1.4 lakh crore for telecom firms, Vodafone's global leadership had cast doubts over the future of the company in India.

"I don't appreciate this kind of statement, firmly and clearly. We have given all the options of doing business but no one should dictate terms to us. India is a sovereign country," Prasad said while speaking at the Times Network's India Economic Conclave.

"India is a sovereign country, we are open to give all the benefits, all the indulgence, all the help, open to all the suggestions. But, any form of dictation is plainly not acceptable," the minister added.

Prasad welcomed the explanation given by the company, wherein it had said those remarks were misquoted.

He said the government has given a potential benefit of up to Rs 42,000 crore by agreeing to defer the spectrum repayment period for the telcos and expressed an inability to do anything beyond that.

State-owned companies such as GAIL and RailTel Corporation of India have also made representation to the ministry.

Prasad exhorted the private sector telcos to provide flawless service with enriching customer experience by making the right investments.

Meanwhile, on the Citizenship Amendment Act-related protests, Prasad said the violence "is regrettable and is also sponsored".

He also said, "Some people are trying to provoke communal violence. Political parties have to rise beyond petty politics."

He also decried Rahul Gandhi's statement on Veer Savarkar over the weekend, terming it as "irresponsible and deliberate denigration of a great son of india".

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel