Raja faces power cut

By T S Sudhir 

Junior Telecom minister in the UPA government, Sachin Pilot, recently ordered a nationwide testing of radiation emitted by mobile phone towers atop buildings throughout India. He could have as well begun at home. For UPA II continues to be unmindful of how its health and image are suffering as a result of the harmful radiation emitting from a cell tower called Andimuthu Raja.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in its report submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has reportedly nailed Raja for gross mismanagement in the 2G spectrum allocation which resulted in a loss of 170,700 crore rupees to the country. The report says Raja ignored the advice of the finance ministry, law ministry and the Telecom Commission while allocating the spectrum.

Raja for his part, walks and talks brusquely in the corridors of power, claiming he is as white and clean as his veshti.

“I did everything legitimate, everything is on record,” he says. Indeed, that his signature is recorded on every paper, is proof that all is not well.

But despite the Opposition, the Supreme court and CAG raising a stink over the magnitude of the alleged scam, the Congress has taken refuge in the case being “subjudice”. It adds that while allocating portfolios is the PM’s prerogative, the Congress also has to respect the coalition dharma. That makes it clear that while Singh is king in South Block, Raja takes his orders from Shehenshah Karunanidhi.

And it is in the court of Kalaignar in CIT colony and Gopalapuram in Chennai, that the case of Raja will be judged. So far, everytime the Congress has tried an out-of-court settlement on Raja, the DMK has trashed it. The latest disclosures will be its big test, especially as they come just a few months before Tamil Nadu goes to polls.

Sensing blood, rival AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa has already moved in for the kill. She has asked all Indians to send a telegram to President Pratibha Patil, demanding Raja’s ouster from the throne at Sanchar Bhavan.

Drawing an interesting comparision, she points out that in 90 years (1857-1947), the Britishers looted India to the extent of 900 crore rupees, at today’s rupee value. The 2G Spectrum scam, perpetrated by a few signatures by Raja, outclassed the British loot by 200 times, says Amma.

But Raja is not Jayalalithaa’s real target. By putting pressure on the DMK-Congress CUG (closed user group), Amma wants to disconnect Raja and DMK as the Congress’ service provider in Tamil Nadu. JJ has made some subtle and some not-so-subtle overtures to the Congress, and for a change, Sonia Gandhi can indeed afford to choose which Dravidian horse to ride on.

By showing the door to Ashok Chavan in Maharashtra, the Congress hopes Karunanidhi will take the hint and remove the protective hand around his Dalit poster boy. Not that it will be easy for the DMK chief, given that a powerful part of his family, backs Raja.

Raja, otherwise used to the cool climes of the Nilgiris (he is MP from Nilgiris), knows with Parliament in session, the heat will be on him. Raja’s 2G spectrum footprint has got India and Tamilnadu warming and that could cost both the Congress and the DMK very dear electorally.

But then co-opting the larger public into positions of compromise by offering them goodies like never before, is a craft the DMK has been finetuning to high degrees of proficiency over the years. That is of course another story.

The spectrum for today is narrowed down to a minister who in a futuristic ministry wanted to be Raja Hindustani. Going by the number of knives that are out for him, it looks like when the going gets tough, the tough will have to be asked to go.


You can also find T S Sudhir’s blogs at http://www.thesouthreports.com


About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
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