UPA not yet ready to dump tainted Raja

Govt rules out Opposition demand for joint parliamentary probe into 2G scam

UPA not yet ready to dump tainted Raja

Adding spice to the issue was the offer of AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha to unilaterally support the UPA if the coalition musters courage to remove Raja from office. However, the Congress chose to keep away from the offer. “At the moment it is very clear that the DMK is our important alliance partner. Whatever Jayalalitha has said is her view. We have nothing to comment on it,” party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram dropped enough hints about the Centre’s decision to stand by Raja on the issue. On the Opposition demand for a JPC probe, Chidambaram, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal, said any action could take place only after Parliament discusses the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the scam. The report is yet to come before the House.

“The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, which is a mini JPC, will go into the issue and report to Parliament. It will again be debated. Why is then there a demand for JPC?” Chidambaram told reporters. The government also backed Raja in its affidavit in the apex court, saying all decisions with regard to the spectrum allocation were taken as per government policy followed by Raja’s predecessors since 1999.

On the CAG report, the government said the CAG had similar harsh observations even in 1999 when operators were migrated from fixed licence fee to revenue-sharing. Also, the loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore as mentioned in the report was misconceived, it said.

With the Centre backing Raja, the Congress could now hope for better ties with the DMK. Speculations were rife about strained relations between the two allies after the 2 G scam began hitting headlines. According to sources, Kanimozhi, DMK MP and daughter of party patriarch M Karunanidhi, had met Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to convey the DMK demand not to touch Raja. Though there were many in the Congress who wanted Raja removed, the party had overall played it safe, saying it was for the DMK to take a call on Raja’s continuation.

According to the DMK, there was no reason for Raja’s removal from the Cabinet. “Why should Raja resign?” asked party spokesperson and Lok Sabha MP, T K S Elangovan. “Whatever the minister did was based on the norms set by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Let the CBI inquiry into the issue end first,” he added.

Jaya’s gambit

AIADMK general secretary Jayalalitha told a TV channel that  her party, which has nine members in the Lok Sabha and nine other like-minded parties could provide the support of 18 MPs — the DMK’s strength — so that the UPA government can sack Raja and need not worry about the numbers game, reports DHNS from Chennai.  The Congress refused to bite the bait.

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