The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested a former telecoms minister over an alleged telecoms scam linked to awarding mobile licences, television channels reported, in a move that could weaken the coalition government.

The former minister, Andimuthu Raja, belongs to a key regional parliamentary ally of the Congress-led government and his arrest could spark tension within a coalition hit by a series of corruption scandals.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government hopes the move will placate the opposition and break a parliamentary logjam that has stalled several major bills, but the opposition immediately said it was too little too late.

Charges against Raja included misuse of his ministerial office and having unaccounted assets. Raja has denied any wrongdoing.

The opposition has shut down parliament since early November, demanding a joint inquiry into a government auditor's report that India potentially lost up to $39 billion in revenue when ineligible firms were given lucrative telecoms licences cheaply in 2008.

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