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DMK to pull out all stops to save Raja

By Manoj Kumar Ramesh

Chennai, Dec. 24 (ANI): The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party in Tamil Nadu has reportedly decided to pull out all stops to save and defend the reputation of former Telecom Minister A. Raja in connection with his role in the controversial 2G telecom licensing scam.

According to DMK sources, the party leadership is planning to organise a series of rallies across the state to inform the people about the true facts. Several meetings are also taking place in Chennai to discuss the issue threadbare and to decide how to respond to it while saving political face.

On Thursday, senior DMK leader T K S Elangovan told the CNN-IBN television channel that the questioning of A Raja in the 2G spectrum scam is an embarrassment for the party.

Answering a question on whether the party was not embarrassed by Raja's properties being raided and him being questioned by the CBI, Elangovan said, "Yes definitely we are embarrassed. It would be wrong to say that the questioning by the CBI is not embarrassing. When things get hot and are blown out of the proportion, it is for the party to go out in the public and explain things."

When asked if the DMK is distancing itself from Raja, Elangovan responded: "There are two elements to this, one is the allocation of spectrum, and the other is the CBI investigation. CBI is investigating the criminal aspect of the entire thing. At the same time we can check the previous records of TRAI, CAG and Raja's predecessors. For the time being, we have to rely on what Raja is telling us."

On Friday, Raja visited the headquarters of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in New Delhi for questioning in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum to certain telecom firms.

Raja was forced to resign last month after a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) faulted Raja for undervaluing spectrum to favour companies who were largely ineligible for 2G spectrum, and added that the government had probably lost Rs.1.76 lakh crore in estimated revenue.

According to sources, Raja is likely to be questioned on the issue of preponing dates for allocation of spectrum and on the role of his relatives in some of the companies which allegedly acted as a front for certain telecom firms which got spectrum between September 2007 and January 2008.

Raja flew to Delhi on Wednesday night from Chennai and was quoted by television channels as saying that he would cooperate with CBI in the probe.

The Supreme Court has asked the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to submit status reports on their investigations into the 2G scam to it by February 10, when the case will come up for hearing.

The CBI in its first information report had mentioned the loss as Rs.22, 000 crore based on the findings of Central Vigilance Commission, which had referred the case to it.

Earlier this week, the CBI had also quizzed corporate lobbyist Niira Radia at her South Delhi farmhouse in connection with the scam.

Radia was questioned for four hours after her taped telephonic conversations with various influential people, including industrialists, politicians and journalists became public.

The CBI also questioned former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chief Pradip Baijal in connection with the case.

The CBI searched the premises of Raja, Baijal and Radia earlier this month. (ANI)

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