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SC spells trouble for Spectrum Raja

A. Raja and his party, the DMK, have so far been brazen about the 2G Spectrum allegations, but the Supreme Court order on Tuesday could change that.

delhi Updated: Sep 14, 2010 01:24 IST
Shekhar Iyer

A. Raja and his party, the DMK, have so far been brazen about the 2G Spectrum allegations, but the Supreme Court order on Tuesday could change that.

The court’s decision to issue a notice to the telecom minister, giving him 10 days to respond to allegations that he cost the government R 70,000 crore by mishandling the 2G Spectrum allocation is set to open a Pandora’s box.

Five months ago when the demand for Raja’s removal had reached a peak, his mentor, Tamil Nadu CM M. Karunanidhi, invoked the Dalit card to defend him. Raja is believed to be close to Karunanidhi’s second wife Rajathi and daughter, Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi.

In his defence, Raja has often said he has not done anything to profit himself and always maintained that he had kept everyone in the loop — the PM as well as his party chief.

Raja is the only individual named in the petition — the significance of which can only add to the DMK’s woes, admit party officials. As such, there has hardly been any united voice within the DMK in support of Raja. Barring Karunanidhi, no DMK leader has come to his aid.

His supporters believe the “fresh troubles” are being “engineered” by a rival DMK group led by Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran, whom Raja replaced as telecom minister in 2007.

Maran left when he fell out with Karunanidhi’s eldest son Union Minister M.K. Alagiri. Since then, though, he has patched up with Alagiri and his brother, Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin.

In the event of Raja being forced to quit, Maran — who is seen as being close to 10, Janpath — may not mind a second stint, DMK sources say.

Raja, say insiders, was focused on his task from the start — to reverse Maran’s decision on auctioning the 2G Spectrum. He, instead, sold it on a first-come-first-serve basis, that too not at the 2007 price, but 2001.

That would not have been an issue for firms if he had given any genuine operator time to bid. Two operators who got the Spectrum — Unitech and Swan (realty players who didn’t even own any telecom) — profitably resold it to foreign players.