NEW DELHI, Feb 2 � A Raja, who as Telecom Minister had allegedly manipulated procedures in allocation of 2G Spectrum that has dented UPA government�s image, was today arrested along with two officials by CBI, a week before it has to file its final investigation report in the Supreme Court, reports PTI.
Retired bureaucrat, Siddartha Behura, who was Telecom Secretary in 2008 when the controversial decision to give licenses was taken, and Raja�s Personal Secretary R K Chandolia were also arrested with the former Minister, all of whom were called to the CBI headquarters this morning.
�Based on the facts disclosed so far during the investigations regarding their role in allocation of Letter of Intent and resultant Unified Access Services Licenses and Spectrum to certain companies ahead of others, the CBI has today arrested the then Telecom Minister, the then Telecom Secretary, the then Private Secretary to the Minister,� a brief statement issued by the CBI said.
It recalled that it had earlier registered a case under various sections of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act against unknown officials of DoT, persons and companies on the allegation of conspiracy and abuse of official position in order to give pecuniary advantage or favour to the applicant companies in the processing and allocation of letters of intent for UAS Licences and resultant spectrum allocation to launch telecom services.
Behura belonged to the IAS while Chandolia is still serving in the Indian Economic Service.
The arrest of 47-year-old Raja, the dalit face of DMK, a crucial ally of the Congress at the Centre, comes almost two months after his resignation as minister in the wake of a Parliamentary storm over his continuance and Supreme court breathing down the government�s neck on investigations in the scam.
The 2G scam paralysed the entire winter session of Parliament on opposition�s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe to go into it. Unless a way is found on the issue, the forthcoming Budget session could again be in trouble.
CBI sources said that the decision to arrest Raja was taken after one of those questioned by it had reportedly given details of some financial transactions of the former minister between 2007, when the process for giving the new licences began, and January, 2008 when the actual licences were given.
They said the person who had �spilled the beans� could be made an approver during the trial.
Raja, a lawyer and five-time MP, was forced to resign in November last after embarrassing details of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India�s report of a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer in the allocation of Spectrum in 2007-08 became public.
The arrest also comes two days after DMK Chief M Karunanidhi held discussions with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to firm up the alliance between the two parties for the coming Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.
Both the parties have ruled out Raja�s arrest having any impact on the political tie up between the two parties. �What has happened is law taking its course and it has nothing to do with the political alliance,� Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters at the daily AICC briefing.
However, the opposition parties are unimpressed with the CBI action describing it as �too little, too late� facing the Supreme Court deadline and made it clear that they would not not resile from their demand for constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to go into scam.
DMK�s arch rival AIADMK went a step further and demanded the arrest of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and family members of Karunanidhi who had conversations with Radia. Party chief Jayalalithaa said the arrest was well-timed for the elections.