Blackmail politics

Only the naïve would believe that the DMK patriarch and Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi visited Delhi in a wheel chair to invite the president for the world Tamil meet or present a gift to Sonia Gandhi or exchange pleasantries with the prime minister. Two of the DMK’s representatives in the union cabinet – fertilisers and chemicals minister M K Alagiri, who is Karunanidhi’s son, and communications minister A Raja, who is close to the family—have recently earned a lot of negative attention. The adverse attention was getting so hot that Karunanidhi probably wanted to talk things out with the UPA leadership and ensure that there are no unpleasant consequences. To communicate to the UPA leadership the consequences of any action against the ministers is the best way to pre-empt any drastic action.

Both ministers do not deserve to continue in their positions. Alagiri is not seen in parliament at all, does not answer questions and hardly attends cabinet meetings. He was vacationing in Maldives when parliament was in session. He spends most of his time in Chennai and Madurai and must be spending much of his energy on the succession battle in the party. The excuse that he does not understand English or Hindi is laughable. Parliament has a good translation system. In any case if he finds he cannot cope, why should be there as a minister? The case of Raja is more serious. There are credible charges that he has caused loss of tens of thousands of crores to the exchequer in the 2G licence allocation of 2008. The allocation was not above board and was marked by arbitrariness, favouritism and violation of rules and regulations. It is not just the media and the opposition parties that are making an issue of it. The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India has pointed out many irregularities and asked the ministry a  number of uncomfortable questions.

If Shashi Tharoor had to resign from the government for an act of indiscretion, why is Raja, against whom there is mounting evidence of corruption of a scale and magnitude difficult to imagine till recently, allowed to continue in the ministry? Not only should he be told to quit, but his actions should be investigated too. If the charges are true, what he did was a wholesale loot of the exchequer. Karunanidhi says Raja need not resign. The UPA is dependent on the DMK, but should it suffer blackmail?

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