New Delhi: DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran will find it difficult to continue as the Union Textile Minister after the CBI told court yesterday that it had evidence to prove that he did misuse his office in 2006 to force the sale of Aircel to an industrialist close to the Maran family.
But while its clear that his continuing as a minister is becoming untenable, the big question now is – will the DMK agree to remove him? His granduncle and DMK chief K Karunanidhi has not had the most bonhomous relationship with ally, the ruling Congress, in recent months. He has been extremely upset ever since his daughter Kanimozhi was sent to jail for her alleged role in the 2G scam. A few months before that, his party’s Dalit face and a man known to be close to him, A Raja, lost his job as Union Minister and also had to go to jail.
And now, Dayanidhi Maran.
The Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi are likely to discuss Mr Maran’s future in the Cabinet with Mr Karunanidhi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met the Congress president in Delhi last evening and sources said that while they may have discussed the impending Cabinet reshuffle, they had not yet decided whether to drop Mr Maran. Their priority, government sources said, was to manage the political crisis that had emerged in Andhra Pradesh as a result of bulk resignations by politicians who want a new state of Telangana to be sanctioned.
But the UPA will have to, sooner than later, take that call on Mr Maran. The Opposition is out in full force demanding that he be sacked, and the anti-Maran voices are only getting louder. Karunanidhi’s bete noir and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa said yesterday, “There is no use in expecting Dayanidhi Maran to take moral responsibility and resign. It is high time that the Prime Minister dropped him from the Union Council of Ministers.”
And the BJP echoed, “We had already demanded the resignation of Mr. Maran from the Union Cabinet. Today what has transpired in court has made his position untenable any longer.”
Caught between a rock and a hard place, the DMK’s partner in the UPA, the Congress, sought to distance itself from it all, with party spokesman Manish Tiwari saying, “I am not the spokesperson for the CBI. I am not aware of such a report and in case such a report has been submitted…it’s between the two institutions.”
Evidence against Maran: CBI tells court
Yesterday, the CBI had said in court that it had some evidence that backed the allegations made against Mr Maran by C Sivasankaran who owned Aircel till 2006. He has testified that Mr Maran refused to grant him licences needed to expand his business. Once Mr Maran sold his company to T Ananda Krishnan, the licences were processed within months. And Mr Ananda Krishnan invested close to Rs. 800 crore soon after in a company owned by Mr Maran’s brother.
The CBI’s inquiry reportedly shows that “despite unanimous recommendation” by Telecom officials, Mr Maran did not sign off on the licences that Mr Sivasankaran needed. The investigating agency also said that there did seem to be “an element of coercion” in the manner in which Aircel was sold to Mr Ananda Krishnan’s Maxis empire.
CBI sources have told NDTV that the agency will question Mr Maran after they gather more evidence against him.
A few days ago, Mr Maran met with the Prime Minister ahead of the much-anticipated Cabinet reshuffle. Mr Maran had then denied that the PM had discussed the allegations against him, and said that the meeting was ministerial work as usual.