Chennai, Nov. 12: The DMK threw its weight behind telecom minister A. Raja as cries for his scalp grew shriller today, and hints emerged that Jayalalithaas support offer was a masterstroke aimed at forcing the Congress hand or, in the absence of action, sucking it into the 2G spectrum controversy.
DMK boss and Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi virtually ruled out Rajas resignation, saying he had done nothing wrong and had only gone by procedures followed by predecessors from the NDA government.
Raja has not committed any crime. He only followed the same first-come-first-serve policy followed by Pramod Mahajan and Arun Shourie when no tenders were floated for spectrum. What is wrong in that? Karunanidhi asked reporters.
He claimed the leaked CAG report, which held Raja responsible for selling the 2G spectrum at lower-than-market rates in 2008, was not final, and such reports had in the past made adverse comments on Prime Ministers and chief ministers too.
Anyway, I would not like to comment till the report is tabled, he said.
Raja denied all allegations of irregularity and dug in his heels. The question (of resignation) does not arise at all. We will prove that everything has been done according to the law
. The matter is sub-judice, he said, declining further comment.
The DMK boss hurriedly interjected when asked about Jayalalithaas offer to support the UPA in return for Rajas head. Claiming the Congress had closed its doors on the AIADMK chief, he said: She was waiting to occupy a vacant spot but there is no vacancy for her.
Karunanidhi said there was no crisis, hence no need to discuss the matter with the Congress. The buzz, however, was that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would take a call on Rajas resignation after his return from Seoul tonight.
E.V.K.S. Elangovan, a senior Congress leader seen as a DMK-baiter and Rahul Gandhis voice in Tamil Nadu, said: Since Raja is in a government led by the Congress, which has set high standards by asking Shashi Tharoor, Kalmadi and Ashok Chavan to resign, he too should follow the Congress example.
Having set the cat among the pigeons, Jayalalithaa took off for the Kodanadu Hill estate in the Nilgiris today. Although the DMK saw desperation in her open wooing of the Congress, AIADMK sources said it was a political masterstroke aimed at weakening the DMK front ahead of next years Assembly elections.
Our leader knew very well the Congress will not desert the DMK easily since both are in cahoots in the spectrum scam. But by giving the Congress an open signal, she has given anti-DMK forces within the Congress, especially the likes of Rahul Gandhi, a chance to rethink the alliance, an AIADMK worker said.
He said that even if Sonia Gandhi stuck with the DMK, having an alternative meant the Congress would demand more seats from the DMK for the Assembly elections. If that happened, the AIADMK would field more candidates against the Congress as they would be easier to defeat than the DMK.
Also, if the Congress buckles down and does not sack Raja, it would give us a very effective campaign ammunition that the DMK and Congress are jointly condoning massive corruption, he said.
Analysts said Karunanidhis ploy of harking back to the NDA regime was a step to shut out the axe Raja option once Singh returns from Seoul. Unless there are very adverse remarks by the Supreme Court on Monday, we do not see any threat to Rajas position, a DMK MP said.