Kanimozhi meets Mukherjee amid opposition demand for Raja’s ouster (Intro Roundup)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NEW DELHI/CHENNAI - With the logjam in parliament continuing over the opposition demand for Telecom Minister A. Raja’s ouster over the 2G spectrum allocation controversy, DMK MP Kanimozhi met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and is understood to have told him that the minister should not be removed.

Sources said Kanimozhi, the daughter of DMK chief M. Karunanidhi, explained to Mukherjee the party’s position on the issue. The DMK is an ally of the ruling United Progressive Alliance.

The DMK has already come out in support of Raja and said that whatever he had done in allocation of 2G spectrum was according to the norms of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Sources said that Mukherjee also had a meeting with senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on the issue. However, BJP leaders said later that the party was firm on its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the telecom scam and removal of Raja.

The Congress made it clear Thursday that the party would leave the decision on Raja’s continuation to the DMK.

Party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said the matter concerning 2G allocation was in the Supreme Court and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the issue had not been placed before parliament.

“After being placed in parliament, it (CAG report) will go to the Public Accounts Committee which at present is headed is by a BJP member,” Dwivedi said in response to questions on the party’s stand on Raja’s continuation.

“What is to be done at the party level is for the DMK to discuss and decide. We cannot say anything about it,” Dwivedi added.

The opposition mounted a fresh attack in parliament on the government for Raja’s ouster after the CAG report, submitted to the government Wednesday, is believed to have indicted Raja. The scam is said to have caused a loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore to the government.

No major business has been transacted in parliament for the past two days over the opposition demand for Raja’s ouster.

Meanwhile, AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa added to the political heat by offering to support the UPA in case it decided to make Raja resign and the DMK withdrew from the government. Jayalalithaa said in Chennai that she understood the compulsions of coalition politics and would back the Manmohan Singh government.

The former Tamil Nadu chief minister told TimesNow TV channel the AIADMK had nine members in the Lok Sabha and with the help of “like-minded parties” could offer support of 18 MPs — to make up for the DMK’s 18 if the latter withdrew its legislative backing to Manmohan Singh.

The Congress has rejected the offer. “At the moment it is very clear that DMK is our important alliance partner. Whatever Jayalalithaa has said is her view. We have nothing to comment on it,” party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said in New Delhi.

Jayalalithaa’s open offer had the political circles in Tamil Nadu agog.

“We are watching the situation,” Communist Party of India-Marxist state general secretary G. Ramakrishnan told IANS.

The two Left parties are aligned with the AIADMK at the state level.

“Our party’s position on Raja is that he should resign or the prime minister should drop him,” he added.

A senior PMK leader told IANS on condition of anonymity: “We are watching the developments.”

Another leader and a member of the state assembly T. Velmurugan said: “Our focus now is on strengthening our position in around 100 assembly seats. We have identified around 55 seats where the party is very strong.”

He said the focus is on proving to others before the election that no party can win decisively without PMK’s support.

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