New Delhi: Facing Opposition onslaught and after days of defiance, Telecom Minister A Raja finally submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the 2G spectrum scandal.
"In order to avoid embarrassment to the Government and maintain peace and harmony in Parliament, my leader (DMK chief M Karunanidhi) has advised me to resign," Raja told reporters.
"I will prove that I did everything according to law," Raja said, adding that his ministry was responsible for the revolution in the Indian telecom industry.
"I am committed to country and people. My conscience is very clear," he added.
Raja, the 57-year-old lawyer-politician, who got the coveted portfolio after the exit of Dayanidhi Maran in 2007 and retained it after the May, 2009 elections, drove to Prime Minister's residence late tonight to hand in his resignation
after steadfastly refusing to do so for the past few days even as the Opposition paralysed Parliament demanding his ouster.
Reports said the telecom portfolio will now be with the Prime Minister. There was speculation earlier that the portfolio would go to a DMK nominee, possibly Karunanidhi's daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi or T R Baalu who had earlier been a Cabinet minister.
Opposition parties welcomed the resignation of Telecom Minister A Raja over the 2G Spectrum scam but demanded an impartial inquiry into the alleged Rs 1.76 lakh crore fraud and filing of a case in this regard.
Describing it as the "mother of all scams" and "a monumental fraud of 1.76 lakh crore", BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said Raja must be prosecuted under Prevention of Corruption Act.
"A proper FIR should be lodged, CBI is already inquring. All those involved in this big scam should be made accountable and liable. All should be prosecuted," he said.
The ruling Congress, on the other hand, claimed a moral high ground, saying the UPA minister tendered his resignation in highest traditions of democracy and hoped that the Opposition would now let Parliament to function.
DMK said it had asked the minister from the party to resign to ensure smooth functioning of Parliament so that issues of public importance were taken up.
Raja is accused of causing a loss of Rs.1.76 trillion ($40 billion) to the exchequer by allocating 2G specturm at 2001 rates.
Congress wanted Raja to resign ever since the party was pushed to the wall by a persistent Opposition. But the coalition dilemma prevented the party from acting firm since DMK is an important UPA ally.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury welcomed the resignation, and called it a vindication of the Opposition campaign against corruption.
A Raja: A profile
A lawyer by profession and the Dalit face of DMK, Andimuthu Raja got the coveted Telecom Ministry for the second time in 2009 piping the high-profile
Dayanidhi Maran notwithstanding allegations of corruption in the 2G spectrum scam.
He got the plum portfolio for his unflinching loyalty to his leader and Tamil nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and also because of his proximity to his daughter Kanimozhi.
From a block-level leader to Union Minister of State and finally a Cabinet minister, Raja's rise in DMK was meteoric as was his fall.
He began his career in the DMK during his student days and is known for his literary skills that drew him close to party President M Karunanidhi, a poet and writer himself.
First elected to Lok Sabha in 1996 when the DMK-TMC alliance in Tamil Nadu swept all the 40 seats in the state, Raja was first made the Union Minister of State for Rural Development in 1999 during the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led
NDA Government piping many senior leaders who were hoping to get into the ministry.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)