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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

I will come out clean in 2G case: A Raja’s words ring true three years later

DMK’s A Raja, who refused bail and defended himself in court in the 2G spectrum scam case, saw himself vindicated on Thursday after a special CBI court judge acquitted all the accused..

india Updated: Dec 21, 2017 18:13 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Former telecom minister A Raja being greeted by his supporters outside the Patiala House Courts in New Delhi after he was acquitted by a special court in the 2G scam case on Thursday.
Former telecom minister A Raja being greeted by his supporters outside the Patiala House Courts in New Delhi after he was acquitted by a special court in the 2G scam case on Thursday. (PTI)

It was in Ketti Palada village, in the picturesque Nilgiris district, that former telecom minister A Raja had moved the peoples’ court on the 2G spectrum case during campaigning for the general elections in 2014.

“I will come out clean from the case, which has nothing in it,” A Raja told this correspondent then when HT caught up with him campaigning in the constituency to retain his Lok Sabha seat in April 2014.

“I have been made a scapegoat and will come out clean,” a confident looking Raja had declared then.

He lost the polls then but came out a winner on Thursday when the special court judge OP Saini in New Delhi acquitted the former telecom minister of all charges in the 2G spectrum scam, which allegedly led to a loss of Rs 3,000 crore to the national exchequer.

Raja, in a press statement on Thursday, said the court judgment “vindicated” him. “Vested interests manipulated public perception by leveraging the media and sensationalising allegations. It has been repeatedly proven that the presumptive loss to the exchequer which formed the basis for the conspiracy theorists to run amok, was cooked-up (sic),” he said.

Raja, a lawyer by education, had represented himself in the court several times, debunking claims of the prosecution. He had even refused to take bail initially saying that he had done nothing wrong and had accused the BJP was “witch hunting”.

Although the 2G case hurt his party, the DMK, badly in the 2014 general elections in Tamil Nadu, Raja remained popular within the party and among the Dalit community, which considers him a hero. DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, whose daughter MK Kanimozhi was also an accused in the case, stuck with the Dalit poster boy of the party throughout.

Born into a poor Dalit family in Velur of Perambulur district on October 26, 1963, Raja was active in student politics and rose quickly in the DMK hierarchy. Since 1996, he was elected to the Lok Sabha four times.

First he entered the Lok Sabha from Perambalur constituency in 1999 and later in 2004. He later shifted to Nilgiris and won in 2009. But, lost in 2014 when the rival AIADMK swept the state.

Raja’s ministerial debut was in the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, when he was inducted as the junior minister in the rural development ministry in 1996. Four years later, he was shifted to health ministry, earning praise from then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

When the DMK switched sides after NDA’s loss in the 2004 general elections, Raja became the environment and forest minister till May 2007, when he was shifted to communication and information technology in May 2007, following the resignation of Dayanidhi Maran.

It was as telecom minister that Raja was accused of conspiracy in the 2G spectrum allocation following which he had to resign and was arrested in February 2011. He spent 15 months in jail before granted he was granted bail.

“I have done nothing wrong. There is no corruption case against me, the Income Tax people have told the court. Finance secretary told court there is no loss to exchequer. You weigh the facts, be the judge and give your verdict,” Raja told Hindustan Times in an interview at Nilgiris in April 2014.

Raja had used his picture going to jail as a campaign material to tell his voters that he was innocent.

“I have placed my case before the peoples’ court for their verdict,” Raja had said.

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 17:49 IST