Indian official forced to resign

By Rama Lakshmi

NEW DELHI – A senior government official resigned Thursday after he was charged with wrongdoing in a widening telecommunications corruption probe in which several politicians and business leaders have been sent to prison.

The resignation was the latest blow to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, which is fighting for credibility amid a series of corruption scandals in recent months.

Dayanidhi Maran, 45, stepped down from his position as textile minister after India’s Central Bureau of Investigation accused him of favoring a Malaysian company close to his family in the distribution of cellphone licenses during his term as telecommunications minister between 2004 and 2007. Investigators told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that a preliminary inquiry suggested that Maran had misused his office to force an Indian cellphone entrepreneur to sell a majority stake to the Malaysian company. After the sale, Maran granted the entrepreneur the cellphone license.

Maran has denied the accusations, saying he was impartial in his decisions during his tenure as the telecommunications minister.

Maran is a member of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), an ally in Singh’s coalition government. Two other lawmakers in the party are in prison on charges of conspiracy and cheating in the telecom investigation.


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