Shadow of 2G spectrum scam looms over 2021 Tamil Nadu elections
A decade after corruption charges regarding the allocation of 2G spectrum brought down the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government in Tamil Nadu, the issue has resurfaced ahead of the 2021 elections in the state.
For over a week, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and DMK have been accusing each other of corruption. Chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami had charged former union telecom minister and MP A Raja of shaming the state and the country by being a part of the 2G spesctrum scam.
“Corruption in 2G is equivalent to the state budget,” said Palaniswami.
Raja had held the portfolio of union telecom minister from 20017 to 2010 during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s second term at the Centre. Raja was arrested in 2011, but a trial court verdict by judge OP Saini acquitted him as well as other accused including DMK MP Kanimozhi of all charges in 2017.
The DMK camp has retaliated that while charges against them were proved false, it was AIADMK’s late leader J Jayalalithaa who was convicted of corruption in the disproportionate assets case. Jayalalithaa’s close aide VK Sasikala and her relatives, VN Sudhakaran and J Ilavarasi are serving a four-year prison sentence in this case. Raja challenged the chief minister to a debate and read out parts from the Supreme Court’s judgement on the disproportionate assets case. “Call me to Fort St George (the state secretariat), bring you lawyers and anyone for defence, let’s debate in front of the country’s media on who is corrupt,” Raja challenged Palaniswami.
He was backed by several DMK leaders, including party chief MK Stalin. Since then, senior leaders, ministers and cadre of both parties have been trading expletives.
On Thursday, AIADMK’s ally, the BJP, too joined the chorus with the party’s former national secretary H Raja warning his namesake that the Delhi high court would soon announce a verdict on a pending appeal in the 2G spectrum case.
Palaniswami also raised the Sarkaria Commission issue. The commission was set up by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during the Emergency when she dismissed the DMK government and ordered a probe into graft allegations during M Karunanidhi’s tenure in 1971-76. For years, the AIADMK has attacked the DMK for “scientific corruption”. a phrase believed to be used by retired Supreme Court Justice Ranjit Sarkaria. “The Sarkaria Commission did not mention such a phrase anywhere in its report, while special judge OP Saini described the CBI’s 2G spectrum case charge sheet as choreographed,” Raja said.