Indian authorities arrest ex-telecoms minister A Raja

India's former Telecom Minister A Raja at the Central Bureau of Investigation in Delhi on 24 December 2010 A Raja quit in November amid what has been described as India's biggest corruption investigation

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India's former telecommunications minister A Raja has been arrested as part of an investigation into a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal.

Mr Raja was forced to quit in November after it emerged that 2G spectrum licences had been sold for a fraction of their value. He denies wrongdoing.

Auditors estimate the mis-selling of the licences cost the exchequer nearly $40bn (£24.5bn) in lost revenue.

The scandal has prompted India's worst political stand-off in recent times.

Parliament's winter session was deadlocked over opposition demands for a major inquiry into corruption in public life.

Mr Raja belongs to the DMK party, an ally of the ruling Congress government. A DMK spokesman said Mr Raja's arrest would not affect the party's ties with the Congress.

'First-come, first-served'

The arrests were made in the capital, Delhi, by the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Ex-telecommunications secretary Siddharth Behuria and Mr Raja's aide RK Chandolia were also held.

India mobile phone consumer India is the world's fastest growing mobile phone market

Mr Raja is accused of issuing the 2G licences on a "first-come, first-served" basis instead of auctioning them.

Critics said the low return was underscored when India's auction last May of 3G mobile bandwidth ended up reaping $15bn, twice the sum expected.

India has the world's fastest growing mobile market, with about half a billion subscribers.

The country has seen a slew of high-profile corruption investigations in recent months, which have helped damage the reputation of the government.

Organisers of the Delhi Commonwealth Games are accused of swindling millions of dollars during the October event.

In November, the Congress party ordered the chief minister of the western state of Maharashtra to quit over his alleged role in a scam involving homes meant for war widows being given to relatives and bureaucrats.

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