New Delhi, November 14
“In accordance with the wishes of my leader (DMK chief M Karunanidhi) and in order to avoid embarrassment to the government and maintain peace and harmony in Parliament, I have tendered my resignation,” Raja told the media outside the PM’s residence. He, however, asserted that his resignation did not mean that he did anything wrong. “I brought about a revolution in the telecom sector… my conscience is clear,” he said.
Raja’s alleged role in the 2G scam had allowed the Opposition to close its ranks and stall proceedings in Parliament last week, accusing the government of shielding corruption. The Congress leadership had been building pressure on the DMK to prevail upon Raja to put in his papers. Today too, top Congress leaders, including the PM, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and political secretary to Congress president Ahmed Patel, had met and reviewed the situation.
DMK chief Karunanidhi, however, was defiant, asserting that Raja had done nothing wrong and there was no question of his resignation. Top DMK leaders had also held a series of meetings over the last two days in Chennai over the issue and maintained that Raja would not resign under any circumstances.
Worried over the stand-off in Parliament, which was expected to continue even in the week beginning tomorrow, Congress managers opened back channels communications with the DMK chief and convinced him on the need for Raja to resign in the interest of the coalition.
The Telecom Ministry for the time being will remain with the PM. A reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers is expected to take place in January after the ‘Makar Sankranti’ when the key ministry may be reallocated to Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi or another DMK nominee.
DKM sources, meanwhile, clarified that the party had no intention of withdrawing from the government or support it from outside over the Raja issue, the AIADMK’s overtures to the Congress notwithstanding.
While the Congress was keen to see an end to the Spectrum controversy, the DMK had contended that it would wait for the tabling of the CAG report and the outcome of the Supreme Court hearing on the issue.
Congress sources said it required all the persuasive skills of the PM and other top Congress leaders to make Karunanidhi agree to Raja's resignation. In Chennai, Raja had met the DMK chief twice before heading to Delhi. At one point, several senior Congress leaders were reportedly in touch with the DMK to orchestrate Raja’s exit.
New Delhi, November 14
The ruling Congress, on the other hand, claimed a high moral ground, saying the UPA minister tendered his resignation in highest traditions of democracy and hoped that the opposition would now let Parliament function.
The DMK, for its part, said it had asked the minister to resign to ensure a smooth functioning of the Parliament so that issues of public importance could be taken up.
Describing it as the “mother of all scams” and a monumental fraud of 1.76 lakh crore, BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said Telecom Minister A Raja must be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
“A proper FIR should be lodged, as the CBI is already inquring. All those involved in this big scam should be made accountable and liable for their wrongdoings. All should be prosecuted,” he said. — PTI