Raja gone, Opposition insists on JPC

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 16 2010, 06:10am hrs
The demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the allocation of 2G spectrum stalled Parliament on the day former telecom minister A Raja quietly vacated his office. The CAG report that reportedly indicted him will be placed in Parliament on Tuesday.

Top Congress sources said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was to make a statement in Parliament on Monday, appeared distinctly uncomfortable facing the House without Rajas resignation. It must be conveyed to the DMK leadership, the PM said, if Raja did not resign on his own, he would be dropped from the Cabinet, the sources added.

Till he landed back in Delhi after being closeted with his party chief M Karunanidhi in Chennai over the weekend, Raja was still striking a defiant posture. As he landed, however, he received that all important phone call from Chennai, asking him to tender his resignation to the Prime Minister directly.

Thus ended the day-long drama, preceded by angry scenes in both Houses of Parliament the previous week that capped the exposes in the media on the way 2G spectrum had been allotted over the last two years.

On Saturday, former telecom secretary DS Mathur in an exclusive interview with The Financial Express said that he had refused to ratify the methodology of allocation without any price discovery. The Congress high command went into a huddle, no longer able to ignore the growing clamour for the ouster of a minister from a party that is a crucial partner in the UPA.

An initial meeting in Parliament between Congress bigwigs was followed by phone calls between Karunanidhi and senior minister Pranab Mukherjee as well as home minister P Chidambaram in the forenoon. It was made plain to the DMK that Raja would have to go, and that this could not be like the last time Karunanidhi came to Delhi on a rescue mission.

The clinching argument was not just the embarrassment being faced by the government in Parliament, but also the fact that coalition dharma applied to the DMK equally. Especially at a time when the Karunanidhi clan faces a destructive internal succession battle and an impending Assembly election. Nobody wants to go into elections without key allies, said a senior Congress leader. It applies to both parties, he added.

To break the deadlock between government and Opposition in Parliament today, Pranab Mukherjee will be meeting an all party group for lunch tomorrow. Let us see the formula offered by the government, said leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley.

Swamy seeks to file case against Raja

Former Union minister and Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy on Monday sought the Supreme Courts permission to file a criminal case against former telecom minister A Raja for his alleged involvement in 2G spectrum scam . He told a Bench comprising justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly that after Rajas resignation from the Cabinet, he is not required to seek the Prime Ministers sanction to prosecute Raja under the Prevention of Corruption Act.