Manmohan Singh 'Fondly Saw Me Off': A Raja On How He Resigned From UPA

Manmohan Singh 'Fondly Saw Me Off': A Raja On How He Resigned From UPA

Cover of A Raja's new book 2G SAGA Unfolds

This is an excerpt from former Telecom Minister A Raja's new book, "2G SAGA Unfolds", published by Har-Anand Publications Pvt Ltd. 

I came to Delhi from Chennai on the evening of the 14th of November. That morning when I was with our party leader Dr Karunanidhi in the Secretariat, Pranab Mukherjee spoke to him about the pandemonium in the Houses of Parliament. I could sense that our leader felt it would be better for the nation to break the logjam in Parliament, so I offered to resign. When I landed in Delhi around 9.00 pm, T.R. Baalu informed me that I could resign as per the advice of our party leader. While on the way to my official residence 2A, Motilal Nehru Marg I sought an appointment with the PM. I called in my PA, prepared my resignation letter and then went to the PM's residence. The Prime Minister appeared to be gloomy and perturbed. He offered me tea and I handed him my resignation letter. He spoke dejectedly about the whole situation, the oral observations of the Supreme Court and about his name having been unduly dragged down. I carefully listened to him and then with all humility I clearly told him, "The procedure I followed in the allocation of spectrum was all legally valid and correct. Your principal secretary discussed with me once or twice in this regard (The Prime Minister was not aware of this). You came to know only later that an annexure sent along with your letter dated 2 November 2007 which spoke about spectrum auction, was against the NTP-99, the Cabinet decision and the TRAI Recommendation. But, who was responsible for that annexure to be sent along with your letter from the PMO? 

How did your senior officials including the Principal Secretary permit that to happen? Had that letter not been sent from your end, you would not be in a mess. CAG too would not have made the absurd comment that I had ignored the advice of the Prime Minister. Without informing you, an unsigned annexure containing the writeup of COAI, contrary to NTP-99, UASL guidelines and TRAI recommendation 2007 was sent to me even without the knowledge of the Joint Secretary (Telecom) in the PMO. I am prepared for any kind of enquiry. Even at this stage I am fully satisfied with my performance in the Telecom Ministry and I am prepared for a debate in the Parliament if need be." I thanked him for the faith he had shown in me as well as his concern and regard for me. The Prime Minister touched upon the introduction of 3G service to the nation and agreed with the impropriety of the CAG's views. While I was clear and firm as I spoke to him, I was unable to make out anything from the vexed look of the Prime Minister. Was it due to the condemning remarks from the Supreme Court or due to his assuming that there were irregularities in the files in a big way? I was not sure and could not guess. Bertrand Russell once said, "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." In fact, he had no need to be worried on either front. He came up to the door and fondly saw me off. 

After submitting my resignation, I told the press, "I enabled a revolution in the telecom sector. When I took over there were only 300 million connections in the country. Due to my efforts today's teledensity is 729 million. The rate per call for mobile telephone users has also fallen dramatically from 1.60 to just 40 paise. My conscience is very clear that I have done nothing wrong and I put in my papers based on the advice from my party leader." When I returned to my residence Dr. Kalaignar Karunanidhi's statement was on my table. No sooner had I completed perusing the statement, I received a telephone call from Chennai saying that my leader wanted to speak to me. I told him, "If your heart and pen can greet me like this, I can relinquish office even ten more times."

Excerpted with permission of Har-Anand Publications from 2G SAGA Unfolds by A Raja. Pre-order your copy here.

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