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Updated: February 3, 2011 02:58 IST

A. Raja: meteoric rise, and then the fall

    Syed Muthahar
    T. Ramakrishnan
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Former Telecom Minister A. Raja. File photo
The Hindu
Former Telecom Minister A. Raja. File photo

The arrest of A. Raja by CBI brings an end to his meteoric rise in the last five years

From humble origins in a non-descript district of Tamil Nadu to a position of high ministerial power and political influence, the career graph of A. Raja tells a story of meteoric rise in the last five years.

But, his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday marks an unexpected low. Projected by DMK president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi as the Dalit face of the DMK, Mr. Raja acquired political prominence in New Delhi and vast influence in the implementation of the country's telecom policy.

In May 2007, when Dayanidhi Maran quit the post of Union Communications Minister, it was Mr. Raja who was chosen by the DMK leadership to succeed him. Since then, he came to be known widely as the bright, young face of the party. His oratorical skills and interest in Tamil literature impressed many.

The kind of confidence that he had enjoyed with his leader Mr. Karunanidhi could be gauged from the statement of Mr Karunanidhi announcing the resignation of Mr. Raja in November. The DMK president described the former Minister as one who had been following the path of E.V. Ramasamy, C.N. Annadurai and B.R. Ambedkar and who had demonstrated a sense of duty, fairness and straightforwardness.

The 47-year-old Raja, a native of Velur in Perambalur district, took an active part in public life right from his student days and participated in various activities of the Dravidar Kazhagam.

He was also an active member of the Rationalist Forum, and literary organisations.

In his early days, the former Union Minister, who holds degrees in science and law, was regarded as a staunch supporter of Transport Minister K.N. Nehru. His first success in the Lok Sabha polls was achieved in 1996 when he was elected from the Perambalur reserved constituency. At that time, he was just 32 years old. Though he lost in the 1998 Lok Sabha election, he was elected again from the Perambalur constituency in the 1999 and 2004 elections. As the constituency became a general constituency in the wake of delimitation, he contested from the Nilgiris constituency in 2009 and emerged victorious.

During 1999-2003, he was Union Minister of State for Rural Development and Health. When the United Progressive Alliance government came to power in 2004, he became Cabinet Minister for Environment and Forests.

Ever since the 2G spectrum allocation issue assumed political overtones in 2008, the party had been defending him. In the last six months, Mr. Karunanidhi had explained several times that Mr. Raja had followed only the policy adopted by his predecessors.

At the same time, he had also gone on record, stating that the party would not hesitate to take action if Mr. Raja was found guilty.






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