An ambivalent Congress, deflecting attention from itself, said on Thursday that it was for the DMK to consider the future of Union Telecom Minister A. Raja, as he belonged to an allied party, not the Congress. Responding to demands for Mr. Raja's ouster from the government for his role in the 2G spectrum controversy, Congress media chairperson Janardhan Dwivedi said, “He belongs to an allied party — and it is for that ally to ponder [on his future].”
With a belligerent Opposition mounting a sharp attack on the UPA government and demanding that Mr. Raja be sacked, the DMK too was clearly feeling the heat. Congress sources said DMK leader and party chief M. Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi met Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday to discuss the subject.
The Congress finds itself in a tight spot as the demand for the ouster of the Telecom Minister comes in the wake of the dropping of Ashok Chavan and Suresh Kalmadi from the governmental and party posts they held, pending enquiries. It is finding it hard to explain why the same cannot be done in the case of Mr. Raja.
The party, therefore, decided to adopt a legalistic position. Mr. Dwivedi pointed out that there was a case pending in the Supreme Court, and that the Comptroller and Auditor-General's (CAG) report on the subject was yet to be handed over to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament for its consideration. It was only after both these had completed their work, that the next step could be taken. He also pointed out that the PAC was headed by a senior opposition leader. Meanwhile “let our allies think about it,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Opposition parties stalled Parliament for the second consecutive day, demanding Mr. Raja's removal and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) investigation into the alleged irregularities in 2G spectrum allocation. The government, rejecting the demand for a JPC, clarified that any decision on the issue could be taken only after the CAG's report — “leaked copies” of which are making the rounds — was examined by the PAC and debated in Parliament.
“The CAG has already given its report. The PAC, which is a mini-JPC, will go into the issue and report to Parliament. It will again be debated,” Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram told journalists outside the Parliament House, asking, “Why is there a demand for a JPC? It is un-understandable.”
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal said corruption was a serious issue and anybody found guilty should be punished. But he also pointed out that while Mr. Raja might have been “indicted” by the CAG, “that is not the end of the matter ... the matter is before the Supreme Court ... we should not make a final decision on anything only after listening to one point and then inflate the issue.”