India has many gates like the Gate of India in New Delhi, Gate way of India and Church Gate [a county well known for its suburban Railway station] in Mumbai, and few others. There are Raja gates in many Maharajahs’ palaces too. Of course Indians know Bill Gate and Watergate [scam]. Now what is in the main news is a different gate called “Raja Gate” or “Spectrum Gate”. Who is Raja? What is Spectrum?
Andimuthu Raja known as A.Raja and திரு.ஆ. ராசா [Mr.R.Raasaa] in DMK Tami, is a DMK member [M.P] of the Indian Loksabah representing hilly Nilgiris constituency of Tamilnadu. He resigned on the 14th November 2010, on corruption allegations, as Minister of Communications and Information Technology, the portfolio he inherited in 2007 from Dayanithy Maaran, another DMK Minister, and a grandson of DMK leader Karunanithy’s own late sister. He was withdrawn by Karunanithy himself due to in house fighting.
But A. Raja, a law graduate who struggles to speak proper English was in no way match in any sphere, except in controversy, to the Harvard educated arrogant and youthful Dayanithy. His appointment itself as Minister of Communications and Information Technology sans broadcasting was ethically wrong since he and his brother Kalanithy were partners of Southern India’s most dominant SUNTV group, that has interest in TV channels, publication of newspapers, magazines and radio channels in Tamilnadu and the neighbouring states. Though Congress party was hesitant, Karunanithi dictated terms in 2004 with his “power” and picked cherry plum portfolios. In brief, he named it - he got it.
Dayanithi used his clout to enrich SUNTV group, suppressing competitors in the media field of Tamilnadu. A notable victim was RajTV, owned by Sri Lankan Tamils of Indian origin. Though exceptionally efficient in his job, Daya was well known for his high handed attitudes. He created a controversy with the legendary Tata group, twisting their arms and threatening them to face consequences if they did not accept SUNTV group as 33% stake holders of a TV, telecom venture for which Tatas were seeking his approval.
In the mean time a family war was erupted when Kalanithi’s Tamil daily “Thinakaran” published the result of a public poll that the masses prefer “leader’s” younger son M.K.Stalin, a friend of Maaran family, and Tamilnadu’s Deputy CM, to become the next CM than the elder brother Alaghiri, current Unionl Minister of Fertilizers. In retaliation Alaghiri’s goons vandalized the newspaper office in Madurai causing death to three. The veteran politician took the side of ‘hit man’ against his grandson. As a result Dayanithi’s head was chopped from Delhi cabinet.
A rapprochement was made before the parliamentary election last year as DMK needed SUNTV group as a propaganda tool. Dayanithy won the South Madras seat again and today he is the Minister of Textiles but his attempt to regain MCIT was thrashed as the “leader” solidly backed the questionable Raja.
SUNTV group presently plays a big part in producing Tamil movies. Kalanithy who is ranked to be one of the 20 richest in India with $ 1.9 billion, has produced the most numbers for the year 2010 including the mega hit “Enthiran”, with Rajanikanth and Aiswariya Rai. Also sons of Karunanithy’s sons Alaghiri and Stalin are in the production of movies. It is not exaggeration if I say that the Tamilnadu CM’s family virtually controls cinema field in Tamilnadu. Actor turned politician Vijaykanth, a foe, right now finds no good theaters to release his movie as theu are under spell of K family.
What is Spectrum?
In simple, it was a case of you selling a property in year 2008 for the assessed value of 2001 when the market is on the surge. Will you do? No, you would not but Raja did. He sold the 2G Spectrum bandwidth basing on the 2001 value in 2008 to a selected few including the big named cooperates like Tatas, Reliance and Airtel.
The deal was not done transparently as per market prices, and the final allocation was distributed with short notice on first come first served basis whereas favoured few were already in the Formula One race track with engine tuned, thus resulting in a scam that cost the government in revenue of Indian Rupees 1.70 lakh crores -US$ 40 billion. So this Spectrum gate or Raja Gate is described as the mother of all scandals in Indian history.
This scam surfaced in 2008 itself but the government denied any wrong doing and the opposition also possessed not much documentary proof in hand. Now the Comptroller and Auditor General’s [CAG] report submitted in August 2010 indicted Raja with evidence that he had personally signed and approved the majority of the questionable allocations.
The CAG had meticulously documented how Raja circumvented norms at every level and obdurately avoided scrutiny in awarding 2G licenses in January 2008 at 2001 rates. Unlike the usual scams, there is nothing secretive about Raja's Spectrum scam. He carried out the dubious 2G license awards in full public view, said to be defying the PM and senior Cabinet colleagues.
A volcano erupted in the parliament and the entire opposition wanted Raja’s head not his crown or throne. But things were put in the back seat due to the Common Wealth Games and President Obama’s visit.
Sooner America’s Air Force One took off for Indonesia from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Airport, with the weeks followed Raja and the Spectrum replaced Obama as the top news in the Indian media and the parliament was put into turbulent air pocket ever since demanding Raja’s removal. No session was conducted.
A case filed in the court by the CBI and another by Dr.Subramaniyam Swamy made matters worse for the defendants. Unlike in Sri Lanka, the judges pulled up the government and specifically the Prime Minister for administrative negligence and lethargy and asked the PM to reply. As ‘Mr.Clean’ image of Dr.Manmohan Singh was put to test, the Congress party woke up and pressurized the adamant DMK to withdraw Raja.
Raja on his part refused to resign stating his innocence and challenged to face inquiry. His stand was backed by his party and the “leader”, saying he did no wrong, he was a Dalit [low cast] and removing him would affect the prospects in the forth coming Tamilnadu state election and threatened that he would withdraw all 18 DMK MPs from the Government if Raja was sacked which added to the Congress dilemma.
Had Karunanithy done that he would have dug his own grave. Congress would withdraw support to his minority state government that would fall. AIADMK leader Jayalalitha came like a bolt from the blue and offered to give unconditional support to the centre if DMK withdraws. This was an issue that drew Karunanidhi's ire. That way the Congress might have saved the government or opted to go for election.
If Congress joins hand with AIADMK, Karunanithy would lose the state as well as the center. So he desisted. The Congress party reached the final stage whether you resign or we sack and eventually face an election.
Raja on the eve of his departure to Delhi on Sunday 14th November told reporters at Chennai airport that his resignation was out of question. When that news was on the air, landing in Delhi after three hours he drove straight to the Prime Minister’s 7, Race Course Road residence and handed over his letter of resignation.
Later he told the media "In order to avoid embarrassment to the Government and maintain peace and harmony in Parliament, my leader (DMK chief M Karunanidhi) has advised me to resign". What a drama it was? It is true politics is a stage where politicians are actors.
The all powerful-mighty Machiavellian Muthuvel Karunanithi who received defeat only in the hands of MGR, knelt down like Raja elephant before Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh for the first time, having tried all the magic in his fingers to save Raja’s head that got shaved off finally.
The episode is not over with Raja’s resignation. The opposition, still paralyzing the winter session now wants to expose Rani also. I mean Loksabha vehemently demands a Joint Parliament Commission JPC to strip Raja on the Spectrum Gate for which the government steadfastly refuses.
The reason is; as assembly elections in Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Assam are due next year, the Opposition will keep this issue alive through the JPC, and as long as a JPC probe continues, there would be leaks, insinuations and innuendos to the effect that the Congress will be on the defensive rebutting the Opposition charges all the time. Besides the government cannot be seen “surrendering” to the Opposition’s pressure on every issue.
Why did Karunathi stood like a fire wall for Raja?
Raja is a snake hanging around the neck of Lord Siva under whose command it acts or bites. The loss of revenue is estimated to be US$40 billion. No doubt the companies had a wind fall. Will Raja do such a thing for nothing? Don’t you think at least half the amount of $40 billion would have changed hand? Where did that money go? Your guess is as good as mine.
Will the DMK survive the “Raja Gate”?
In a way, the DMK and its leader stands naked before the eyes of the people. Of course Dr. K has done enough to the state and people do appreciate it. But the “Raja Gate” seems to have wiped off that good will. No doubt it will affect the party’s prospects in the state election.
Though Karunanithy pleads to retain the tie with the Congress, it is unlikely if the same bitter situation prevails. With what face can the Congress go before the people with a tainted party that pushed them into a burning petrol tank? Therefore a shuffle is possible unless Raja elephant obeys the Mahout unconditionally.
Rahul Gandhi, unlike his mother, does not see eye to with Karunanithy for his arrogant political maneuvering and corrupt practices, and he openly shows his displeasure avoiding the CM whenever he visits Chennai. His youth Congress prefers to go away from the DMK. Therefore it is not possible for the DMK to survive the “Raja Gate”. In 1996 when the DMK was spritless under Jayalalitha, it was Rajanikanth and a breakaway Congress group brought to power.
If Congress decides to align with Jayalalitha now, that will bring the end of Karunanithy’s political and physical life. Is Jayalalitha, the chief beneficiary of this scandal, a holy cow? No. How can one forget the days when the media dubbed her “Bandit Queen” for her autocrat and corrupt rule? During her last tenure she demanded one million Rupees “for party fund” to meet business people for discussion.
I remember what I wrote in the early 90s ‘everybody drinks water from the river but Jayalalitha diverted the river to Poes Garden’, her residence. But now the Indian Ocean is diverted to ----- ? You know where. It is a question of whether the kettle is black or the pot is black? Both are black.
When Maaran brothers hosted a lavish dinner party to some friends and family members in Chennai on the 14th to celebrate Maharaja’s dethrone with the presence of Karunanithi’s two sons Alaghiri and Stalin - the daughter of Karunanithi, Kanimoly, from his [traditionally] unwed wife Rajathy Ammal was observing mourning. Out of the family members only she defended Raja to her best. It showed the family is diametrically divided.
A tapped taped conversation [visit http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?268064] of last year released by media on the 18th November, between Ms. Niira Radia, a power broker cum owner of a consultancy firm, Raja, Kanimoly and few others, sheds some light on Spectrum links and Raja’s closeness to Kanimoly who he calls as Kani. Is she a Kani – fruit in Tamil, to him?
Chairman of the Rs 320,000 crore salt-to-software conglomerates Ratan Tata who feels the publication of intercepts of his conversation with Ms.Niira Radia, who handles corporate communication for the group, has violated his right to privacy and may move Supreme Court on Monday against the publication.
He holds that as Radia's [A British citizen] phones were tapped by government agencies [Exchange control & Income tax dept] specifically for investigating a possible offence [Forex & taxation]. Therefore the recorded conversations should have been used for that purpose alone and it has no bearing on the [Spectrum] case under investigation.
Ratanji, you know well you are wrong. It is true, but the said tape talks about Spectrum and mentions the names of telecom giants, Mukesh Ambani, Barti Mittal and you. Also Niira tells Raja that he should be neutral pointing to his friendship with Mukesh. Raja tells Niira strongly, to tell Mittal that he will have to work with him for the next five years. Are not these have bearing on the Spectrum case under investigation?
Besides, in Tamilnadu it is gossiped that twice divorced Kanimoly is a Rajathy to 47 year old Raja who is already married to Parameswwary with a daughter Mayuri. God only knows the truth. As long as people of Tamilnadu are willing to give their lives for corrupt politicians and cine stars, as Rajanikanth said once, even if God comes he cannot save Tamilnadu !.