Ahead of an expected statement in Parliament on Monday, Minister for Communications and Information Technology A. Raja has handed over his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The development follows hectic parleys between some senior Congress leaders and DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi during the day. By evening on Sunday, the DMK leader advised Mr. Raja to submit his resignation.
This brings to a close one chapter of the drama that involved allegations of corruption in 2G spectrum allocation, although Mr. Raja continued to maintain that he was following the policy laid down by the previous National Democratic Alliance government and was not guilty of any wrong doing.
Raja: I will prove my innocence
Soon after tendering his resignation, Mr. Raja told journalists here that he had done what he had been advised to do by “my leader,” that is, DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi. Mr. Raja said he was confident that his innocence would be established. “My conscience is clear and I have done nothing wrong.”
‘Tele-density had risen'
Mr. Raja pointed out that through his efforts in the Ministry tele-density had risen from about 300 million users, when he took charge, to over 700 million now. The rates per call for mobile telephone users had also fallen dramatically from Rs.1.60 to just 40 paise or less, with huge reductions in outstation telephone call charges.
The CAG report on the spectrum allocation, sent to President Pratibha Patil for her signature, is expected to be presented to Parliament on Monday or the next couple of days.
“Let PAC see report”
Senior Congress leaders have so far maintained that serious adverse remarks were made by the CAG even in its report in 2000 on the telecom sector when the then NDA government waived committed licence fees and allowed companies in this sector to migrate to a system of revenue sharing. At that time too, there were allegations of loss to the exchequer of thousands of crores of rupees. “In any case, the CAG report will be seen by the Public Accounts Committee chaired by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi,” a senior Congress leader in the government pointed out.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties have welcomed the resignation of Mr. Raja, but there is no word yet on what will happen in Parliament that has been stalled since November 10.
Chennai Special Correspondent reports:
Mr. Karunanidhi said in Chennai that Mr. Raja was advised to quit with a view to safeguarding the country's parliamentary democracy.
Everyone had the responsibility to protect and nourish the dignity and neutrality of parliamentary democracy in India. If this principle suffered any blow, it was the duty of all to safeguard the principle, Mr. Karunanidhi said in a two-page statement issued late on Sunday night.
Reiterating that in the allocation of 2G spectrum, Mr. Raja had adhered to the procedures that were followed since 1999, the DMK leader said that despite offering such explanations several times, some were bent upon demanding Mr. Raja's resignation and disrupting the proceedings of Parliament. “A handful of people, not many, are enough to create this kind of confusion. And these people have planned to create a situation of bringing everything to a standstill by blocking the working of the administration of the United Progressive Alliance and functioning of Parliament.”
He noted that for the past one year allegations were being made against Mr. Raja and Parliament was getting disrupted over the issue.
Mr. Karunanidhi described Mr. Raja 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.