Maran resigns from Cabinet!

Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran Thursday resigned from the union cabinet, ending the speculation on his fate following his alleged involvement in a telecom scam and again putting a question mark on ties between the DMK and the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Informed sources told IANS that Maran, the second DMK minister in the union cabinet to quit over the 2G spectrum scam, submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after a cabinet meeting.

The resignation comes a day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) alleged that Maran had forced telecom promoter C. Sivasankaran to sell his Aircel stake to the Maxis group considered close to his family.

Maran, the grand nephew of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, gave the resignation to the prime minister after attending what turned out to be his last cabinet meeting as a union minister, the sources said.

According to sources, Manmohan Singh briefly met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, IT and Communication Minister Kapil Sibal and Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily to study the CBI’s 2G status report that was filed in the Supreme Court Wednesday.

Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati attended the meeting, they said.

Maran left the prime minister’s 7 Race Course Road residence after attending the cabinet meeting and drove back to put in his papers, the sources said. He also had a short meeting with the prime minister.

Maran’s successor as IT and communications minister A. Raja quit in November 2010 and was jailed for his alleged involvement in financial irregularities in allotting second generation radio wave licences to mobile phone service providers.

Another DMK leader, Karunanidhi’s daughter and MP Kanimozhi, is also in prison for allegedly conspiring with Raja.

Opposition parties had sought Maran’s removal following allegations that he misused his official position when he was holding the telecom portfolio from 2004-07.

The CBI in its report to the Supreme Court alleged that Maran as the communication minister sat on the licence applications of Aircel till Sivasankaran agreed to sell it to the Malaysia-based Maxis group.

Maxis allegedly bought 74 percent stake in Aircel and the company was later allotted more telecom circles to operate in.

Maxis Communication, through its subsidiary Astro, then allegedly invested around Rs.600 crore in Sun DTH belonging to the Sun TV Network owned by Maran’s family.

The minister has denied the charge of any quid pro quo between Maxis and Sun TV. But with the CBI stepping up the heat, he faced greater pressure from the opposition parties to resign.

On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa asked the prime minister to sack Maran.

The DMK is a key ally of the UPA, and speculation has now moved to the future of the often fraught relationship between the DMK and the Congress.(IANS)

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