Raja out of jail, but will DMK warm up to him?
At one point, DMK chief M Karunanidhi and his sons had debated suspending A Raja to salvage the party's image. However, his standing as a prominent Dalit leader prevented any action. Shekhar Iyer reports. The scamdelhi Updated: May 16, 2012 10:19 IST
A Raja, who was meted out cold treatment by his party for landing the DMK in the 2G scam mess, was greeted warmly by his colleagues as he stepped out of Tihar jail.
Some lifted him up, others fed him sweets, and one handed him a mobile phone to speak to MK Stalin, son of DMK chief M Karunanidhi, as the bail order was pronounced.
This probably came as a surprise, for only a few months ago, Stalin and his elder brother, Union minister MK Alagiri, had criticised Raja's proximity to the family of their half-sister Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi and her mother Rajathi Ammal.
Even Karunanidhi had made an ambiguous statement after the CBI arrested him in February 2011.
"Bad friends," he had said, "will get you into trouble."
Today too, the DMK chief's response was guarded.
"All in the DMK support Raja and I am happy he got bail."
At one point, Karunanidhi and his sons had debated suspending Raja to salvage the party's image. However, his standing as a prominent Dalit leader prevented any action.
Besides, his proximity to Kanimozhi and her mother and the faction supporting them worked to his favour, though many in DMK blamed Raja and the scam for the debacle in the Tamil Nadu polls in April 2011.
Things began to change for Raja only when Karunanidhi came to meet his daughter in Tihar jail last year.
Later, Stalin and Alagiri and archrival - former textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran - also called on him.
Raja, however, cannot expect any quick rehabilitation though his status as DMK propaganda secretary will remain unchanged.
DMK spokesperson TKS Elangovan said as much.
"Raja is our propaganda secretary and will remain so."
Raja, it is believed, waited to apply for bail because he wanted the other accused to leave jail first. He moved his plea only after Supreme Court granted bail to ex-telecom secretary Siddharth Behura five days ago.
Another rumour was that Raja preferred the confines of Tihar after mysterious suicide of his aide Sadiq Batcha in March 2011. He has sought extra security even now.