Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CM denies irregularities in TNHB allotment

Chennai, Dec 8 : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today denied any irregularities in the allotment of government flats and plots under the Government Discretionary Quota and accused a section of the media of blowing a non-issue out of proportion.
In a statement here, he described as 'mischievous', reports in a section of the media that rules were violated in allotment of plots and houses of the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) under the discretionary quota.

The DMK Government had even provided houses to mediapersons at subsidised rates, he said and accused a section of the media of being 'ungrateful' and trying to tarnish the image of the government with ulterior motives.

Stating that neither the TNHB nor the government had suffered any losses by alloting houses under the discretionary quota, the Chief Minister said the media was trying to project that such preferential allotments were made by the ruling DMK

Petrol, diesel prices to go up by Rs 2/litre: Report

New Delhi: Oil companies are planning to raise petrol and diesel prices by Rs 2 a litre, a newspaper has reported on Wednesday.

 The move is now anticipated as the crude oil price has touched the two-year high of USD 90 a barrel.
 Diesel prices have last hiked in June this year when the government had also deregulated the sensitive commodity allowing state run firms which control 90 per cent of the retail fuel market in India, to fix petrol rates themselves. Petrol prices too have been raised four times since then.

 While, during the same time the international crude oil prices has risen about 18 per cent.

 Oil firm shares have rose sharply after the report. Indian Oil Corp (IOC.BO) was up 2.7 percent, Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL.BO) rose 3.1 percent and Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL.BO) gained 2.4 percent.

 Earlier this week, Oil Secretary S. Sundareshan had said India could consider raising diesel prices before planned share sales of state-run Indian Oil Corp and ONGC but ruled out full deregulation of diesel prices.

Opposition will not rest till nod for JPC probe in 2G scam:Jaya

Chennai, Dec 8 : AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa today said the Opposition would not rest till a JPC probe was ordered into the multi-crore 2G spectrum scam involving former Telecom Minister A Raja and accused Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi of 'blackmailing' its ally Congress on the issue.
''There is no alterative to a JPC probe. The Opposition will not rest until it is cleared,'' she said in a statement here.

Referring to Mr Karunanidhi defending Mr Raja reportedly stating he alone could not have perpetrated a scam of such enormity on his own, she alleged it was a tacit and inadvertent admission that there were more people behind the scam.

''It is a veiled threat to the Congress leadership to go slow on the spectrum investigation,'' she alleged adding if precipitate steps were taken to corner Mr Raja, Mr Karunanidhi had warned he would not hesitate to reveal the names of some others directly or indirectly involved in the scam.

Ms Jayalalithaa said ''the implication is that such a revelation could be unpalatable to the Congress and this is Mr Karunanidhi's way of blackmailing his alliance partner.''

DMK may suspend former telecom minister Raja

The Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) is likely to suspend former telecom minister A. Raja from the party. 
The DMK is likely to suspend Raja following the CBI raids at his homes in Delhi and Tamil Nadu in connection with the 2G spectrum scam.
The party is keeping a close tab on Wednesday's CBI raids and their outcome.
Raja holds the post of propaganda secretary in the DMK. It is learnt that he met DMK chief M. Karunanidhi on Sunday. The meeting did not last long.
Headlines Today had reported how the DMK was planning to sideline Raja and Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi to blunt out the AIADMK's campaign against the party.
Raja and Kanimozhi, it had been reported, were likely to be relieved of all organisational posts in the party.

2G spectrum scam: CBI raids residences of Raja, 4 officials

Former telecom minister A. Raja
File photo of former telecom minister A. Raja.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday carried out raids at the residences of former telecom minister A. Raja in Delhi and Chennai. Raids were also conducted at the premises of four other telecom officials, including his personal secretary R. K. Chandolia, in connection with the Rs 22,000 crore 2G spectrum scam.
The CBI sleuths began the searches in the wee hours of the morning in Delhi and Chennai at the residences of 47-year-old Raja, who was forced to resign as minister on November 14 following the CAG's report that the rates at which 2G spectrum was allotted resulted in a possible loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
Raids were also carried out at the residences of former telecom secretary Siddarth Behura, Chandolia, Member Telecom Commission K. Sridhar and Deputy Director General in the Department of Telecom A. K. Srivastava, CBI sources said.
Raja has been maintaining that he was ready for questioning by the CBI any time.

Raja in dock over bid to influence HC judge

Former telecommunication minister A. Raja is in for fresh trouble. The Madras High Court on Tuesday ruled that action be taken against a lawyer for trying to influence a judge of the court by using the then Union telecom minister's name.
The court said lawyer Chandra Mohan be suspended. It also asked the bar council to take action against him for trying to influence Justice Reghupathy.
In his letter dated July 2, 2009 to then chief justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice Reghupathy had said that a lawyer representing a client in a criminal case tried to influence him. The lawyer said his client was friends with a Union minister by the name of Raja.
The court's order on Tuesday came in response to a PIL filed by an advocate, asking how a lawyer could try to influence a high court judge.
In June 2009, Justice Reghupathy had told an open court that a Union minister had called him and tried to influence his judgement. He threatened to write to the government and the prime minister about the matter if the advocate appearing in the case failed to submit an unconditional apology.
Janata Party chief Dr Subramanian Swamy demanded strict action against the guilty.
"An inquiry should be held by the Supreme Court. Then chief justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan had said that no call was made to the judge, but it now appears that a call was made. So an attempt had been made to mislead the chief justice," Swamy told.

2G scam: SC slams Raja for ignoring PMO, law ministry

The Supreme Court on Thursday slammed former telecom minister A. Raja for showing disrespect to the prime minister in a letter on the 2G spectrum allocation issue.
The court told Raja that his manner of correspondence with Manmohan Singh was disrespectful.
Rejecting Raja's defence that he might have ignored the prime minister's directions but did not disrespect him, the court said he should have known what language to use.
The court also said that it prima facie seemed like Raja had been disrespectful towards the law minister too.
The law minister had recommended in November 2007 that the 2G licence allocation matter be sent to the EGOM, but Raja ignored it. Later when the prime minister told him to stop the allocation and go for an auction, Raja again ignored the directions.
The government too got flak from the court for allowing Raja to ignore norms.

'DMK to sideline Raja, Kanimozhi'

Faced with the AIADMK out to pin it down over the 2G spectrum scam, the DMK is planning to sideline its leaders A. Raja and Kanimozhi, according to Prabhu Chawla, Editor (Languages), India Today.
Raja, the former Union telecom minister, and DMK chief Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi may be relieved of all organisational posts in the party.
This follows their names cropping up in the telephonic conversations of corporate lobbyist Nira Radia.
Chawla says it's an election strategy to blunt out the AIADMK.
"I expect Kanimozhi to be silent during the elections. She will not be the face of the DMK, which was the case so far. She will be kept in the house; she will be looking after other things but she will not be seen as a person who holds any organisational post in the party," says Chawla.
DMK sources said that as early as next week, the party may formally announce its decision on Raja and Kanimozhi.
Tamil Nadu is poised for assembly elections next year. With the AIADMK going to town over the Radia tapes, the DMK is on a correction mode.
Despite his fragile health, Karunanidhi has suddenly turned active on party matters. He was recently closeted for long hours, first with sons M.K. Alagiri and M.K. Stalin and later with grandnephews Dayanidhi Maran and Kalanidhi Maran.
What has been noted is that Raja suddenly seems unwelcome at the DMK patriarch's residence. This could also be the party's attempt at sending out a strong message to the Congress that its southern ally has zero tolerance against wrongdoers.

2G scam: NDA alleges govt indifferent to corruption

L.K. Advani
BJP leader L.K. Advani addresses the media outside the Parliament House in New Delhi.
Unrelenting on its demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into 2G spectrum scam, Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA on Thursday attackedPrime Minister Manmohan Singh for giving "repeated clean chits" to former telecom minister A. Raja and alleged the government was "scared" of embarrassing truths coming out.
At a press conference, NDA Working Chairman L.K. Advani attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying he too should be held responsible in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
"The Prime Minister gave repeated clean chits to A. Raja, the erstwhile telecom minister. He turned a deaf ear to the national hue and cry. Parliament first debated this issue in the Rajya Sabha on July 23, 2009," he said.
He alleged the government was not agreeing to a JPC presumably because it is "scared of embarrassing truths staring it in the face".
"Government is indifferent to the problem of corruption. And if an allegation is likely to reach a high political office, then they become absolutely adamant," he said.
Justifying NDA's insistence on a JPC probe, the senior BJP leader said had the parliamentary stalemate not taken place, Raja would not have resigned.
Advani insisted that though Public Accounts Committee is an important body, it had a limited mandate and hence a JPC probe was needed. He maintained that his colleague and PAC Chairperson Murli Manohar Joshi had been misquoted in a newspaper report on the issue.
"The width and magnitude of the matter involved in the 2G spectrum allotment case are far beyond the scope of the Public Accounts Committee. The CAG is an internal auditor of the Government. It raises various accounting and auditing issues. The PAC confines itself to para-wise observations of CAG. It cannot go beyond the issues which were before CAG," he said.
He said a large number of these issues are not within the purview of PAC. "Some may overlap with JPC but there is nothing new or extraordinary about the limited overlap between two different parliamentary committees," Advani said.
The NDA Working Chairman also mentioned the alleged role of corporate lobbyists in portfolio allotment.
"The 2G Spectrum allotment scam involves wide ranging issues. Why was it necessary that the Telecommunication portfolio was to be allotted only to DMK? Were corporate interests at play that even within DMK that it was to be allotted only to a particular individual to the exclusion of others?" he said.
He also wanted to know if the former telecom minister and his associates were in regular touch with corporate lobbyists while formulating the policy for allotment of 2G Spectrum.
"All these happenings are of a nature which vindicate our stand that government is not serious about corruption," Advani said.

2G spectrum scam: CBI raids A Raja's residences

New Delhi:  It is proving to be a very severe winter for A Raja.The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided his house in Delhi today, along with his homes in Tamil Nadu, in connection with the 2G scam which Raja allegedly masterminded. The allegations cost Raja his job as Telecom Minister last month. The government's auditor offered voluptuous criticism of Raja, stating that he broke the rules, ignored the advice of the PM, and deliberately gave away precious 2G spectrum at clearance prices to companies that lied or misrepresented information to land 2G licenses.

Mr Raja has been unflappable through this phase - even as the Supreme Court, which is monitoring different 2G cases, asked the CBI why Raja has not yet been interrogated. The court also slammed Raja for ignoring the Prime Minister's advice which suggested that Raja consider a different policy for 2G allocation. Raja rejected that notion in a letter to the PM - the tone of that note was also held up by the court as inappropriate. 

Mr Raja's party- the DMK - has so far been staunch in its support, with party chief M Karunanidhi offering a  defense earlier this week which included a complex reference to a mythological monster and silent films. Mr Karunanidhi has been a prolific screenwriter in the Tamil film industry.

The CBI has been asked repeatedly by the Supreme Court about why it's moving slowly in its investigation against Raja and others who worked with him in the Telecom Ministry.  The raids today included the homes of four former officials of the Department of Telecom including RK Chandolia who served as Mr Raja's personal secretary during the controversial 2G allotment. The others are: AK Srivastava, Sidharth Behura and K Sridhara.

In Tamil Nadu, the CBI raided the home of Sadique Basha, believed to be a business partner of Mr Raja.  

2G scam: CBI raids residences of Raja, aides

New Delhi/Chennai: Turning the heat on former Telecom Minister A Raja in the multi-crore 2G spectrum scam, CBI Wednesday carried out searches at his residences in Delhi and Chennai besides carrying out raids at the premises of four Telecom officials, including his personal secretary R K Chandolia. A team of about 80 CBI sleuths began the operations in the wee hours in Delhi and Chennai at the residences of 47-year-old Raja and the other officials. 

Raja was forced to resign as minister on November 14 in the wake of CAG's report that the rates at which 2G spectrum was allotted resulted in a possible loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. 

Besides being accused of undervaluing 2G spectrum, Raja has also been held responsible for circumventing the rules to favour companies that did not meet the eligibility criteria for getting spectrum licences. 

AIADMK demanded that Raja be arrested under the Prevention of Corruption Act. "It's a belated action. But it is better late than never. The next logical step should be to arrest Raja under the PCA and interrogate him," AIADMK leader V Maitreyan said. 

Karunandhi is blackmailing Congress: Jayalalithaa

                                                                                                             New Delhi:  The AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa has taken on her arch rival M karunanidhi again. Issuing a press statement Jayalalithaa said that even as the state is suffering due to floods Karunanidhi has managed to remain unfazed and rather chosen to audaciously defend A Raja accused in the 2G spectrum scam.

Jayalalithaa claimed in her statement that Karunanidhi was blackmailing the Congress party at the Centre by exerting undue pressure. 

Here 's the complete statement of J Jayalalitha.

Tamil Nadu bar council chairman suspended

Chennai, Dec 7 : The Madras High Court Tuesday suspended R.K. Chandramohan as the chairman of TamilNadu and Pondicherry Bar Council for trying to influence Justice R. Raghupathy through a union minister last year to get bail for his clients.
Hearing the petition of G. Rajendran praying for initiating contempt of court proceeding against Chandramohan, for trying to influence Justice Raghupathy last June, the high court ordered the suspension of Chandramohan from his bar council post.

Last year, Justice Raghupathy in an open court declared that a union minister tried to influence him for granting bail to two accused - C. Krishnamurthy and Kriba Shridhar - in a forgery case investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation.