AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa on Wednesday called for the dismissal of Union Minister for Communications A. Raja from the Cabinet for, what she called, causing wrongful loss to the government in 2G spectrum allotment, and for the reinstatement of Vineet Agarwal as the head of the CBI team investigating the scam.
Referring to the transfer of Mr. Agarwal, she said in a statement: “The implications are obvious. The Union government has succumbed to pressure from the DMK to give the case a quiet burial.” The law should be allowed to take its course.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said it was a “great credit to Opposition unity” that the controversy-prone Minister of State for External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor was made to resign soon after doubts were raised about his involvement in dealings relating to the Kochi franchise of the Indian Premier League cricket team. “Tharoor's guilt has not been proved. Yet, in the highest traditions of Democracy, he chose to quit,” she said.
“Now that this healthy precedent has been set, it would only be fitting if the Union government demonstrates that the Shashi Tharoor resignation was no aberration and that the government means business in all matters relating to its collective integrity and honesty.” Ms. Jayalalithaa said the wrongful loss to the Indian government and people through the adoption of a faulty policy was anywhere between Rs. 60,000 crore and Rs. 1,00,000 crore.
“Shashi Tharoor is accused of having influenced the sale of an IPL franchise. Raja is accused of having influenced the sale of spectrum licences. The IPL franchise is a private issue relating to the BCCI. Spectrum, on the other hand, is a property of the government and the people of India. A friend of Tharoor is alleged to have benefited to the tune of about Rs. 70 crore from the franchise holder for services rendered by Tharoor. Raja is accused of having caused enormous loss to the Nation to the extent of up to Rs. 1,00,000 crore,” she said.
While the charges against Mr. Tharoor were made by an “interested party in the IPL circus,” the charges against Mr. Raja had been levelled by “many independent political parties of integrity and validated by the media, investigating agencies, the Central Vigilance Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India and even the courts of law,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said. “Tharoor stands disgraced before Parliament and the nation and was forced to resign. But Raja proudly continues as Cabinet Minister, handling the same portfolio he was handling at the time of the scam …!”
Ms. Jayalalithaa pointed out that the CBI inquiry into the spectrum scam was necessitated by a serious indictment by the Central Vigilance Committee. The Comptroller and Auditor-General too, in his report, concluded that the faulty procedures adopted by Mr. Raja had caused the Union government a loss of at least Rs. 26,000 crore in the sale of 2G spectrum. He also observed that ‘prima facie, the whole process of issue of licence lacked fairness and transparency.' The Delhi High Court, hearing a case relating to the sale of 2G Spectrum, had observed that the first come, first served procedure adopted by Mr. Raja was akin to the ‘sale of cinema tickets.' In fact, Ms. Jayalalithaa said, Mr. Raja had openly flouted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's written directions to take clearance before embarking on the controversial sale of 2G spectrum. Mr. Raja had also dismissed a suggestion by the then Law Minister H. R. Bhardwaj for an Empowered Group of Ministers to decide on spectrum licence auctioning, she said.
In a case challenging the Department of Telecommunications' decision to arbitrarily advance the cut-off date, retrospectively, the Delhi High Court termed the move “illegal”. The DoT appealed before the Supreme Court, which upheld the High Court order.
“My information is that the CBI has made considerable headway into the case. They have their tabs on Raja and some of his associates like Nira Radia, the chief of the Noesis Strategic Consulting Services, who has used her links with Raja to obtain spectrum licences for several new telecom operators. They have unearthed the links between Raja and outfits like Swan Telecom and Unitech,” the AIADMK general secretary said.
“The Congress-led UPA government's predicament is peculiar. When charges were raised by Lalit Modi about Shashi Tharoor's dubious involvement in IPL deals, the junior Minister was sacrificed. But when it comes to allies, the UPA is forced to submit to blackmail or be prepared to sacrifice power,” she said.
“I call upon the Opposition, which was so united in seeing the exit of Shashi Tharoor, the media, who were so vigilant in the IPL scandal, and the people of this great nation to come forward and stop this national loot before the Nation itself is sold out for a price,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said.