Cong demands sacking of Telecom Minister over call drops issue

New Delhi: Criticising the government for failing to resolve the problem of call drops, Congress today demanded the immediate sacking of Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for his “incompetence”. Party general secretary Shakeel Ahmed told reporters that it was becoming difficult to talk on mobile “for even five seconds” and the problem was more in the networks of state-owned MTNL and BSNL.

“The concerned Minister should be dropped forthwith due to the growing problem of call drops. The problem shows his incompetence,” said Ahmed, a former Minister of state for Communications, while addressing the AICC briefing. He, however, did not take the name of Prasad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in the last week of August voiced serious concern over the menace of call drops and asked officials concerned to take urgent steps to address it as it affects the common people.

Government had stepped up pressure on mobile operators to check call drops asking their promoters including Anil Ambani, Kumar Mangalam Birla and Sunil Mittal to directly intervene to address the issue. It also warned that the companies would face penal action if they fail to take corrective action. Prasad said on the Sunday that the situation is improving.

“There is a problem about call drops, but the situation is improving,” he had told reporters in Patna. “All the telecom operators have been told to take steps to improve quality of services,” he had said, adding that the telecommunications department had reviewed the situation on a weekly basis for the past two months to reduce call drops. Making a strong plea for a national tower policy, Congress had earlier accused Prasad and TRAI of playing into the hands of corporates by declaring that mobile towers are completely safe if installed in residential areas or school buildings.

Replying to queries on other issues, Ahmed steered clear of the demand for a ban on Sanatan Sanstha in the wake of the arrest of its activist in the murder of the rationalist Govind Pansare. He said that it is a law and order issue and the BJP-led Maharashtra government needed to take a call on it.

He suggested that the Sanatan and MIM headed by A Owaisi were two sides of the same coin and MIM is helping the BJP in poll-bound Bihar.

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