Telecom Minister A Raja resigns

Yielding to relentless pressure, controversial A Raja resigned as Telecom Minister after being ordered to do so by his party, DMK, in the wake of allegations that he caused a loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer while allocating 2G Spectrum two years ago.

Raja, the 57-year-old lawyer-politician, who got the coveted portfolio after the exit of Dayanidhi Maran in 2007 and retained it after the May, 2009 elections, drove to Prime Minister's residence late tonight to hand in his resignation after steadfastly refusing to do so for the past few days even as the opposition paralysed Parliament demanding his ouster.

The resignation was submitted after he returned to Delhi from Chennai where he met the party chief and state Chief Minister M Karunanidhi twice in the last 24 hours.

"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," Raja said.

There was speculation that the telecom portfolio would go to a DMK nominee, possibly Karunanidhi's daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi or T R Baalu who had earlier been a Cabinet minister.

After meeting the Prime Minister, Raja, the dalit face of DMK, told reporters that he tendered his resignation on the basis of advice given by "my beloved leader Karunanidhi".

"I have tendered my resignation to the PM to avoid further embarassment to the goverment and avoid disruption of proceedings in Parliament. I have resigned.

"That does not mean I am accepting everything. I will come clean and I will prove that I did everything according to the law. I wanted to send a message across to the people. Whatever I have done is in accordance with the rules. I will prove it," he said.

Raja said, "we wanted to send a message to the people that as I said both inside Parliament and outside I did a revolution in the telecom sector. When I took over there was only 300 million connections in the country. Due to my efforts and endeavour today's teledensity in the country is 729 million".

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