Few in UPA support Raja, DMK isolated

The DMK, one of the key constituents of the Congress-led coalition at the Centre, appears to be getting isolated in the UPA on the 2G spectrum allocation issue and the role of Union telecom minister A. Raja in it.

Neither the Congress party nor any of its ally in the UPA are finding it easy to defend Mr Raja from the allegations of committing irregularities in the 2G spectrum allocation. While the Congress’ position on this issue is technical and wants the Opposition to wait till tabling of a CAG report on it in Parliament, its allies, the Trinamul Congress, the NCP and the National Conference — are reluctant to support Mr Raja inside and outside Parliament.
After removing Mr Ashok Chavan from the Maharashtra chief ministership on the Adarsh housing scam in Mumbai and axing Mr Suresh Kalmadi from the post of CPP secretary on the CWG mess up, the Congress cannot afford to protect Mr Raja.
Asked about demands for sacking of Mr Raja against the backdrop of removal of Mr Ashok Chavan, AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said “The concerned minister is not from our party. Raja is a member of our alliance partner. It is for that party to decide.”
Though the Congress refused to back the telecom minister, a cautious Mr Dwivedi said “Raja’s question is slightly different.
“This case is pending before the Supreme Court. CAG report has not been placed before parliament and after placing, it would go to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is always headed by a leader of Opposition BJP. Let these two things happen first. Let the PAC take a view on the issue first and let our allies think about it,” Mr Dwivedi said.
But the Congress apparently wants the DMK itself to “withdraw” Mr Raja from the Cabinet.
Suggestions in this regard were clear when a senior Congress leader said, “had he been in our party, he would have gone by now.”
According to the sources, the Congress cannot ask its allies to drop some one in the Cabinet who is facing a charge of committing irregularities.
“This is a coalition, we cannot ask our allies to drop such ministers. After all, we have to run the government,” said a senior party leader.
Opposition’s attack on Mr Raja and the Congress’ guarded defence is mounting pressure on the DMK chief and Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi to act.
It is also significant that the Congress has not rejected outright AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa’s offer of support at the Centre in lieu of dumping Mr Raja. It made it clear that the DMK is the important alliance partner “at the moment”. “At the moment, it is very clear that DMK is our important alliance partner. Whatever Jayalalithaa said may be her feelings and we have nothing to comment on it,” Mr Dwivedi told reporters in reply to questions here on Thursday.
Commenting on the offer, Union minister and AICC in-charge of Tamil Nadu,Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, separately said “there is no vacancy in Tamil Nadu” as the party already has an alliance with DMK.
But the senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar favoured an “impartial” probe into the 2G spectrum allocation issue and said the Prime Minister would take a correct decision in this regard as he is aware of “all the facts”.
“I am neither ready to say that nothing has happened, nor that something happened....I think Prime Minister is aware of all the facts and being an honest person he will arrive at a correct decision,” he told reporters on the sidelines of Skoch summit here.
“First there should be an impartial probe and the necessary steps could be taken on the basis of the findings,” he said.

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