Former telecom minister A Raja will be produced in the Patiala House court on Thursday, a day after he was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the 2G spectrum scam case. Raja, along with his personal secretary RK Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, will
appear at court for the hearing after spending the night in Tihar Jail.
Raja was arrested on Wednesday even as the scam-hit Manmohan Singh government hoped this tangible action against corruption would help restore its credibility, dilute the opposition’s onslaught and help it break the stalemate in Parliament.
Soon after, the DMK seemed set to suspend him.
The CBI held Raja and two of his close associates, retired IAS officer Siddhartha Behura, who was telecom secretary in 2008, and Raja’s personal secretary, RK Chandolia, for allegedly manipulating procedures while allocating the second-generation telecom spectrum licences in 2007-08.
All three had been called to the CBI headquarters in the morning and will spend the night in a CBI lock-up.
Raja, (47), the Dalit face of the DMK and a five- time member of the Lok Sabha, was forced to resign on November 14, 2010 after details of a CAG report — stating that the spectrum allocation led to a R1.76 lakh crore notional loss to the exchequer — became public.
His arrest came two days after his mentor and DMK chief M Karunanidhi held discussions with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on strengthening ties for the Tamil Nadu assembly elections.
For the DMK, it was a toss-up between the impact of inaction against corruption and Raja’s vote-bank.
For the Congress, the action was imperative to substantiate its claim that it was serious about tackling corruption. But the Congress dismissed suggestions that the arrest would affect the credibility of the PM or raise questions about the collective responsibility of the Cabinet and the accountability of the PM for not acting earlier against Raja.
The 2G scam paralysed the entire winter session over the opposition’s demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe. The issue may trouble the forthcoming budget session too. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has convened an all-party meeting on February 8 to resolve the stalemate.
Although the uneasy UPA government, also hit by the Adarsh society and Commonwealth Games scams, hoped the arrest would help it restore its credibility, the opposition termed it “too little, too late”.