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Maran quits
n 2G claims second DMK minister from UPA govt n Tension increases between DMK and Congress
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 7
Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran today resigned from the Union Cabinet after he came under the CBI scanner for his alleged role in the 2G Spectrum scam when he was the Telecom Minister in the UPA-1 regime.

Maran (44), thus, became the second DMK minister to resign from the Union Council of Ministers over the mega scandal, the first being A Raja, who quit in November last year and is presently lodged in the Tihar Jail here.

The Scam stain

n Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran had been under intense pressure for the last one month to resign after reports alleged that his family owned SUN TV received pay offs from a Malaysian firm in return for the Spectrum allotted to it during his tenure as the Telecom Minister

n He was left with no choice after the CBI on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that evidence  had been gathered against him in the scam

n Maran submitted his resignation to the PM on Thursday after attending the Union Cabinet meeting

Maran had been under intense pressure for the last one month to resign after reports alleged that his family owned SUN TV received pay offs from a Malaysian firm in return for the Spectrum allotted to it during his tenure as the Telecom Minister. He was left with no choice after the premier investigation agency yesterday told the Supreme Court that evidence had been gathered against him in the scam.

This morning, he attended a meeting of the Union Cabinet, which took several important decisions. Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, in response to questions, said the allegations against Maran did not figure at the Cabinet meeting. He also stepped out of the Cabinet meeting for a few minutes when it discussed FM licences, giving an impression that he was avoiding a conflict of interest since his family owns the Sun Network which includes radio stations.

After an hour or so, Maran again visited the Prime Ministerís residence, this time in his private car, and handed over his resignation.

The Congress core group had met last night to take stock of the situation arising from the CBIís status report in the apex court on the progress of investigations into the scam, which has dented the image of the UPA regime in its second Ďavatarí. The PM is also understood to have held separate consultations with senior Union ministers, including Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily and Kapil Sibal and Attorney General GE Vahanvati on legal aspects of the case. In its status report, the CBI has held Maran guilty of delaying telecom company Aircelís application for 2G Spectrum licence.

With Maranís resignation, the tension between the Congress and the DMK, its alliance partner in the UPA, has only increased. Relations between the two parties have gone from bad to worse since Raja and DMK supremo M Karunanidhiís daughter Kanimozhi, MP, were charge-sheeted in the 2G scam and sent to jail.

This is the second time Maran has quit the Cabinet. The first time he resigned was in 2007 when DMK supremo M Karunanidhi decided to withdraw him from the Cabinet following sharp differences within the then first family of Tamil Nadu. Soon Maran mended fences with Karunanidhi, his granduncle, and was inducted into the Union Cabinet as Textiles Minister after the 2009 polls.

The times have, however, changed. After losing power in Tamil Nadu to the AIADMK in the Assembly polls in May, the DMK finds itself on a sticky wicket and is not in a position to dictate terms to the Congress. With Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa breathing down its neck, the party canít afford to snap ties with the Congress. Its problems will only increase if it does so.

The PM has already indicated that he would undertake a reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers soon. However, it is still not certain if he would induct any fresh DMK nominee into the government. TR Baaluís name is again doing the rounds for a Cabinet berth. Political parties, meanwhile, reacted on expected lines to Maranís resignation. The BJP and the Left parties described the resignation as Ďítoo little and too lateíí while the Congress stated that it was for the government to make a statement in the matter.

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