In the Know Your Candidate series, tfipost.com will profile interesting candidates in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections.
On Sunday, DMK released a list of candidates for the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies it is contesting in Tamil Nadu, the rest 19 will be contested by Congress and other allies. Lok Sabha elections in the state will be held in one phase on April 18 with the counting done on May 23. Among fielding children of politicians and other well known faces, they have also stirred up quite a controversy by nominating Andimuthu Raja- The face behind corruption in India. A Raja will be contesting the Lok Sabha seat at Nilgiris (SC).
A Raja was the cabinet minister for Communication and Information Technology from May 2007. During that time, he was involved in the 2G Spectrum case, which has been considered the largest political corruption case in modern Indian history, amounting to around ₹1,766.45 billion of lost income for the Government of India. A Raja was accused of giving licenses to telecom operators at throw-away prices without a free and fair bidding process, in exchange for kickbacks. Although the political opposition was demanding his resignation over the 2G spectrum case, Raja initially refused to resign, stating his innocence. He eventually resigned on 14 November 2010. The CBI and Enforcement Directorate estimate that Raja could have made as much as Rs 30 billion from the alleged bribes. The CBI had also alleged that Rs. 200-crore bribe paid by a telecom operator to A Raja was deposited in a TV channel in Chennai that is owned in part by Kanimozhi, the daughter of DMK chief M Karunanidhi. Raja and R.K. Chandolia are also heard in conversation with Nira Radia in the released Radia tapes. He was convicted by the Supreme Court and was sentenced for the same.
The Supreme Court had cancelled all the 122 licenses awarded in 2008, ruling that these licences and subsequently, all natural resources should be allocated through auctions/a fair bidding process alone. The court declared the allotment of spectrum as “unconstitutional and arbitrary”. The apex court further said that A Raja “wanted to favour some companies at the cost of the public exchequer” and had “virtually gifted away important national asset”.
Moreover, A Raja was also involved in a number of other corruption cases, including a real estate case involving his friend and nephew. The real estate firm had a turnover of 755 crores in two years, mainly attributed to the association of Raja.
The 2G spectrum scam had rocked the UPA government to the core. It was one of the chief factors that led to the downfall of Manmohan Singh government in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls In 2011, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had stated, “It is quite possible that we have failed to manage perceptions. We should focus on changing perceptions”.
Nomination of A Raja for Lok Sabha Elections, a little more than a year after he has been acquitted has got to be the most imbecile move of the election season. He has caused a massive loss to the tax payers and now the DMK government again wants to give him a post of authority. With the introduction of the Lokpal bill and the recent nomination of the Ombudsman Pinaki Chandra Ghose, India is moving into a corruption-free era. Moreover, A Rajas connection with the daughter of DMK chief M Karunanidhi and her TV channel seems suspicious. Nomination of candidates such as A Raja is completely in contrast to the nations fight against corruption and considering that the entire country is aware of his antics, the citizens will see right through it.