Home India Politics A. Raja – a political life dramatic in rise and fall

A. Raja – a political life dramatic in rise and fall


Chennai: Andimuthu Raja, the dynamic Dalit leader, once among the DMK’s top ranks, is the first union minister from Tamil Nadu to land behind the bars of the Central Buruaru of Investigation (CBI).

His arrest Wednesday has added another twist to a political life that was as dramatic in its rise as it is in its fall.

From a block-level leader in the state to the rank of a union cabinet minister, Raja’s rise owes a lot to his closeness with the party supremo K. Karunanidhi.

Today, the DMK and the Congress party, allies in the United Progressive Alliance government, insist that Raja’s arrest will not impact their ties.

Raja was forced to resign Nov 14, 2010, after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) indicted him in the 2G spectrum allocation scam and for causing losses of between Rs.58,000 crore ($12.8 billion) and Rs.1.76 lakh crore ($40 billion) to the exchequer.

The CBI later searched his houses in New Delhi and in his native Perambalur. Raids were also conducted at the premises of his close relatives and business associates.

Raja was also questioned by the CBI four times on matters connected with the 2G spectrum allocation.

A holder of a degree in science, and a degree and post-graduate degree in law, Raja entered the Lok Sabha for the fourth time in succession since 1996 for the fourth consecutive time.

In the 2009 elections, Raja shifted to the Nilgiris reserved constituency as his home seat in Perambalur was de-reserved.

He had been minister of state for rural development and health and family welfare, and then the cabinet minister for environment and forests in the Manmohan Singh government.

But what rocked his political fortune was when he was the cabinet minister for communications and information technology.

It is said the Congress was reluctant to induct Raja into the government a second time in 2009. But with the tough posturing of DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, the Congress had to change its mind.

According to DMK sources, Raja got a ministerial berth at the centre in 1999 on the recommendation of Murasoli Maran, who was impressed by the capability of the young advocate.

A poet and author of a collection of poems, Raja caught the eye of Karunanidhi, himself a much loved poet and orator.

Raja is among the trustees who will run the hospital to be set up at Karunanidhi’s Gopalapuram residence after the leader’s and his wife’s lifetime.

Married to M.A. Parameswari, Raja has one daughter.