Posters in the state proclaim him as the Dravidian Ambedkar. Wherever he goes, garlands, smiles and slogans greet him. A Raja may be discredited in Delhi, but in the mountain ranges of Nilgris where he has been elected as the MP, the former telecom minister is a people’s hero.
There is no hint of hesitation in Raja’s voice when he says he is ready to face even a fresh case in the alleged `1.76-lakh crore loss to the exchequer in the allocation of 2G spectrum. The DMK leader is on a triumphant tour. Last week, The Nilgiris MP arrived in Ooty after a gap of 15 months. This is his first visit to the constituency after getting bail on May 15. On June 13, in Tiruvavur, DMK chief Karunanidhi shared the dais with Raja for the first time since the Niligiris MP was released from Tihar. Raja was at his eloquent best, likening his “elder brother” to Nelson Mandela saying both had built institutions that no force in the world could wipe out. It was a show of strength and solidarity: present with Raja were Union Minister of State for Finance S S Palanimanickam, party MP A K S Vijayan, former DMK ministers E V Velu, Ko Si Mani, U Mathivanan and Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal. The meeting was held to celebrate the Dravidian patriarch’s 89th birthday.
Also present at the public meeting, was Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu, mother to M K Stalin and M K Alagiri. Her presence, say party insiders, could be taken as a sign of growing acceptance within the party for Raja, who is perceived as close to Rajathi, the mother of Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi.
As summer ravages the capital, Raja plans to stay in the cool environs of the Nilgiris until Jaunary 30th. He addresses party workers with the refrain: “Even if a fresh case claiming a loss to the tune of `1.76 lakh crore is filed against me again, I am ready to face it and will prove my innocence. I am prepared to meet people’s forum and explain to them about the rumours spread about me regarding the case.”
“Now the case is about why I allotted spectrum to only certain companies. The number of mobile phone users increased to 80 crore from 30 crore and even the call charges have come down because I performed well as telecom minister.”
The welcomes he receives inspire confidence in the defiant former minister.
Thousands of party workers from Coimbatore and Nilgiris had thronged the Coimbatore airport last week to welcome Raja. The slogans, ‘once a king, (Raja) always a king’ (Raja)’ rent the air as bands played to greet the DMK leader, who was wearing his typical attire: a white dhoti and shirt.
Raja tells crowds that he believes in the reincarnation of his party. If the welcome he gets from his voters is any indication, his political reincarnation may not be too far away.