Friday, November 12, 2010

Raja is innocent till CBI indicts him: DMK

By Sujoy Dhar, New Delhi, Nov 11 : Stung by the clamour for the resignation of its minister A Raja over the 2G spectrum scam, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) said the Telecom Minister is innocent till the Supreme Court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) pronounces him guilty.

"He says he is innocent. It is our stand. If a CAG report is any basis for resignation of Raja, then every Indian minister in every state has to resign," DMK MP T K S Elangovan told IBNS.

While the axe hangs over telecom minister A Raja and the grumblings only seem to grow louder as the opposition cries for his neck in the alleged 2G spectrum scam, the DMK said till an ongoing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe report finds him guilty he should not resign.

"CAG is only an auditing body," he said, adding that the matter is also before the Supreme Court.

"Let the Supreme Court give its judgement," he said.

The Congress on Wednesday seemed to put the ball in ally DMK's court to decide his fate.

"While we assert that it is the prime minister's prerogative to decide upon his council of ministers, we will also keep in mind the coalition dharma," Congress party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters.

Her reply came in response to questions raised on whether her party was looking for a resignation from Raja.

A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had held him personally responsible for the sale of 2G spectrum that cost the national exchequer a loss of Rs 1.70 lakh crore in 2008.

According to some sources, however, the decision on Raja's neck might only see light of the day when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh returns on Friday from a G-20 Seoul summit in Seoul.

Reports said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was under tremendous pressure over all the flak drawn by their beleaguered cabinet member.

Meanwhile Raja's political opponent All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday threatened to start a national campaign if the the UPA does not sack Raja.

In an acidic statement, Jayalalithaa egged on the Congress on letting Raja go by saying they had done the right thing with their line of disgraced ministers so far.

"A Raja is DMK's poster boy in Delhi and will not quit on moral grounds. Karunanidhi will not ask him to quit. His family has taken the 2G spectrum money," she said.

Already under intense scrutiny by the telecom watchdog, civil society and the Supreme Court, the CAG latest report on the alleged 2G spectrum does not come at a good time for Raja.

In its report, CAG said that the minister for IT and communications ignored advice from the PM and ministries of law and finance, and the recommendations of the Telecom Commission to allocate 2G spectrum to a select group of companies at throwaway prices.

The CAG also did not spare the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and accused the telecom watchdog of standing by as a spectator when its recommendations were either ignored or misused.

Around 85 licences to 12 companies out of the 122 new licences were issued in the controversial January 2008 decision.

The CAG said that the companies which won the rights did not meet the prescribed DoT eligibility conditions.

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