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Explained: Why CBI had to arrest A Raja

Last updated on: February 3, 2011 13:44 IST

Image: Former Telecom Minister A Raja
Sheela Bhatt

The Congress's fears of a loss of credibility, the dwindling fortunes of the DMK and a chance for one-upmanship over the Opposition, especially the BJP, meant that A Raja had to be arrested, says Sheela Bhatt

The beleaguered United Progressive Alliance government has begun damage control with a bang with the arrest of former telecommunication minister A Raja.

The credit for Raja's arrest should go to the Congress's fear over the Gandhi family losing credibility in this season of scams.

The Congress had to take action to improve its image and maintain its leadership clout. Raja's arrest is a small event in Delhi's political spectrum.


Sonia, Dr Singh's credibility was threatened

Image: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

The belated tough action against Raja has come about only because Sonia Gandhi's leadership and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's well-celebrated clean image came under scrutiny due to multi-media platforms taking up the issue aggressively after the Supreme Court's caustic remarks against the government over the CAG report on the 2G spectrum scam since mid-2010.

Gandhi-Singh needed to do something and that has resulted in their chief minister turning into an accused in just couple of months and may soon condemn Suresh Kalmadi into political wilderness.

After Raja's arrest, Congressmen can now boast that, 'We are not like BJP.'

The ghost of Bofors seemed to be veering around towards 24, Akbar Road and that prompted the Congress to make a course correction on the 2G spectrum issue.

When the Bofors scam broke thanks to a Swedish radio news item, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's cronies tried, at the national and the global level, to suppress the investigation or give it a spin that nobody bought.


Congress hopes for smooth sailing during the Budget

Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with DMK chief M Karunanidhi

But it seems after the Supreme Court's tough stand throughout the winter of 2010, the Congress managed to convince the DMK leadership that Raja had to go.

It will also help the UPA to break the Opposition's unity on the issue.

A senior source in the Congress confirmed that, "We expect that after Raja's arrest the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party should not find any difficulty to let the Budget Session of Parliament run smoothly."

This means in other words that non-BJP opposition parties, except the AIADMK, may help Congress to let the Budget pass smoothly.

The demand for a JPC to investigate the 2G spectrum will be weakened now, hopes the Congress.


DMK's dwindling fortunes sealed Raja's fate

Image: DMK chief M Karunanidhi

The DMK's dwindling image has been also a crucial factor behind Raja's disgrace. In India, where corruption, of all kinds, has been institutionalised such arrests are not easily possible.

But, the road was paved for Raja's arrest because the Congress seized the opportunity when it saw that on ground zero in Tamil Nadu, the DMK and its leader K Karunanidhi were weakening and weakening fast.

The DMK did not have many political options. Its leadership is under pressure from many sides. Its credibility is dwindling due to unrestricted nepotism and it is being robustly challenged by old foe J Jayalalitha.

The DMK needs the Congress more than ever before and Congressmen have played their cards well to improve their own image by taking action against Raja.

Also the DMK has calculated that even if they lose the upcoming state elections they will still have power in the Centre but if they did not allow Raja to be touched then they could lose power at the Centre too if the state is lost.

In the last four months, a cunning Congress has managed carefully the drama preceding the arrest of Raja, a man who was sitting with Dr Singh on the same high table just three months back. Now that man is in jail and the Congress is taking full credit for it!

The Congress had to de-link from Raja

Image: Former Telecom Minister A Raja

After the leaking of the CAG report on the 2G spectrum scam, the Congress tried its best to separate Raja-DMK from the Congress-led government.

This artificial 'de-linking' needed time but with the Tamil Nadu election due this summer, it expedited the Congress's management of DMK, a crucial ally in New Delhi.

Moreover, the DMK's arch-rival Jayalalitha was ready to defame the Raja-DMK by distributing plastic toy phones in every nook and corner of the state. Hence there was a convergence of interest between Karunandhi and the Congress's leadership in dumping Raja.

The well-rehearsed reaction from both sides shows that Dr Singh and Sonia Gandhi had worked successfully for it. The DMK and the Congress both are swearing by the alliance post the arrest.



The Congress can go one up on the BJP

Image: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa

If Raja remains in jail for a few weeks, it will be advantage Congress at time when the BJP is unable to take the moral high ground after not dismissing tainted Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari has conceded that Yeddiyurppa has been immoral in land allotment to his family but the BJP leadership is unable to make him resign.

After, Raja's arrest, the BJP's erroneous and unacceptable stand in Karnataka is giving Congress space to maneuver in the public debate over corruption.

The Congress has taken advantage of the BJP's inherent weakness of playing by tactics without any strategy.



The government is still not off the hook

Although, it's too early to say but one would not be surprised if party troubleshooter Pranab Mukherjee convinces the non-BJP opposition parties except the AIADMK to help pass the Budget without much fuss.

The clearance given to POSCO, one of India's most ambitious investment projects, without any major changes in the ground realities, shows that government wants to get back into action mode.

However, the fizz over Raja will die soon and the Budget may pass this month, but nobody will believe that the government is getting strong just because one alleged scamster has been brought to book.

The issue of 'black money' stashed abroad allegedly belonging to politicians is already assuming such proportions that it may endanger the stability and credibility of the government.

And then Mrs Gandhi and Dr Singh have surely heard about 'price rise', the current curse on the nation.