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Once A Raja

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The ex-telecom minister A. Raja was arrested. No one seems to know exactly why, except that the Congress needs to show that it is not pro-corruption. HT reports:

The CBI on Wednesday arrested A Raja, his former private secretary RK Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura, for their role in the issuance of allegedly motivated Letters of Intent (LoI) in January 2008 that resulted in favouring certain telecom companies in 2G
allocation.

The trio will spend the night at a CBI lock-up at its headquarters. Raja, Chandolia and Behura were allegedly “evasive” in their replies to the CBI earlier, which contributed to their arrest.

Raja, who was had been interrogated thrice by the CBI, arrived at the headquarters around 10 am and was arrested six hours later alongwith Chandolia and Behura.

“…There will be more arrests when the probe handles aspects like the illegal payoffs and the money trail,” said a CBI source.

The source added, “The custodial interrogation of the three will give us leads about the payoffs and specific role of other co-accused.”

The agency will approach a Delhi court on Thursday for CBI custody of the three.

Clearly a lot of political groundwork was done before the arrest. BS reports:

As Raja belongs to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), an ally of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), and contributes 18 MPs out of 40 from Tamil Nadu-Pondicherry, there had been some misgivings in the government that the arrest could impact its stability. The UPA has 259 MPs in a House of 543. If the DMK were to walk out of the government in protest against the arrest of one its MPs, the UPA would slip into a minority.

However, immediately after news of the arrest, DMK chief M Karunanidhi went into a meeting on tenders for the free TV scheme that the state government has launched and barred reporters from the venue. Karunanidhi’s alder son, Azhagiri, who has been critical of the role played by Raja, told associates that he had suggested to his father that Raja be suspended from the party. In response, Raja had been removed from his post as propaganda secretary. But there was no reaction from the party — not even mild condemnation of the Centre’s move.

One reason could be the relationship that the Congress and DMK enjoy in the state. The DMK has 99 MLAs in a House of 235. The Congress, which supports the government from the outside, has a strength of 34. Although the Pattali Makkal Katchi with 18 MLAs now supports the DMK, the Karunanidhi government is sure to fall if the Congress pulls out. Moreover, with Tamil Nadu elections due in a matter of months, the DMK simply cannot afford to rock the boat and would prefer to sacrifice one of its MPs instead.

If the political machinations could take place which made it possible to arrest Raja without destabilizing the government, then it was certainly a lack of will to stop corruption which kept him in the ministry while INR 1,760 was stolen from each of one billion Indians.

Back story here.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 2, 2011 at 7:35 pm

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