PM pats Raja, BJP frowns

Former Telecom Minister A Raja got a friendly pat from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while being greeted at a DMK function here, prompting BJP to say it sent a wrong signal when the Supreme Court was hearing the spectrum case.

Last Updated: Nov 23, 2010, 18:32 PM IST

New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister A Raja
got a friendly pat from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while
being greeted at a DMK function here, prompting BJP to say it
sent a wrong signal when the Supreme Court was hearing the
spectrum case.

Raja, who was standing along with other DMK leaders,
greeted the Prime Minister in the DMK party office in
Parliament House when he came to pay homage to former union
minister Murasoli Maran on his seventh death anniversary
today.
Singh patted him on his shoulder before leaving the
venue. The function was attended among others by Congress
president Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Pranab Mukherjee.

DMK party leader T R Baalu and his colleagues from the
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, besides several Congress MPs also
paid homage to Maran, who served as commerce minister in the
Vajpayee Government.

BJP was quick to respond to Singh`s gesture saying it
sent a wrong signal at a time when the spectrum case was being
heard by the apex court.

"At such a time, the Prime Minister patting Raja`s back
at a public event would appear like a message in itself to the
people and does not look good".

But the Congress was dismissive of BJP criticism.
"Personal relationship and emotions do not work on switch-off,
switch-on mode. Raja has worked under the Prime Minister for
six years. He is a senior MP of an ally, DMK. I do not think,
he (PM) has done anything wrong," party spokesperson Shakeel
Ahmed told reporters.

He went on to add, "of course CAG has raised an issue
and submitted its report to Parliament. But that is a separate
issue," he said.
Raja, who struck a defiant note for several days, was
forced to resign on November 14 in the wake of the government
auditor`s report that there was a loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore
to the exchequer at the rates spectrum was allocated.

Parlaiment was stalled over the spectrum controversy
for the eighth consecutive day today with the opposition
unrelenting on its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee
probe and the government refusing to yield.

PTI