Former telecom minister and Dravid Munetra Kazhagam politician A Raja has threatened to start a hunger strike unless he is allowed to appear before the Joint Parliamentary Committee that is probing alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum and licences during his ministerial tenure in 2008.
Raja, who has said he wants to appear before the JPC to present his case, has ‘threatened that he would sit on a fast before the Gandhi statue in front of gate number 1 of Parliament Building’, a person familiar with the development said, on condition of anonymity.
“He says it is his right as a member of Parliament to present his side before the JPC.” Raja has demanded he be allowed to appear before the as a witness and on February 23, had sought Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar’s intervention in the matter.
However, according to the same source, the DMK is opposed to him appearing before the JPC. JPC chairman P C Chacko said the committee has not taken a decision on his demand yet. Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party have supported Raja’s request.
A senior leader in the Congress who also spoke on condition of anonymity said Raja’s demand had put the Congress leadership in a dilemma. “DMK leaders do not appreciate Raja’s appearance before the JPC as a witness,” the source said.
A concerned Congress president has asked senior party leaders to tackle the issue without antagonising the DMK leadership, the senior Congress leader added. DMK organisation secretary and MP T K S Elangovan was not available for comment. Raja was also not immediately available for comment.
Raja, who has denied charges of corruption against him, told the court hearing that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in the loop on the decisions related to the telecom licensing process.
Some Congress politicians say the party leadership is worried that if Raja were to testify before the JPC, the prime minister may be dragged into the controversy once again. Raja was arrested in connection with the spectrum case in February 2011 and released on bail in May 2012.