Former Telecom Minister A Raja, at the centre of the 2G spectrum allocation scam , has earned the dubious distinction of figuring in the list of Time Magazine’s “an ignominious club of privileged leaders who stepped too far”.
The 2G scam is ranked No 2 in the list of scandals and scams in the all-time Top 10 Abuses of Power, only next to ex-American President Richard Nixon’s ‘Plumbers’, a secret unit tasked with digging up dirt on Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.
Raja, who is cooling his heels in New Delhi’s Tihar jail, has beaten some tough contenders to be ranked second and be ahead of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, North Korean autocratic leader Kim Jong-II and skirt-chasing Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Raja’s lawyer when contacted said he did not want to comment on the report.
The Time write-up on the India’s Telecoms Scandal says, “In recent months, India’s ruling coalition government has been rocked by an epic corruption scandal that has challenged its once unbreakable grip on power.”
The Time report while including the DMK leader in its list also did not have any kind words for Indian democracy or the judiciary.
It said that following 2008 elections, the country’s telecommunications ministry was awarded to Andimithu Raja, “a relatively green lawmaker from a regional party who won his post as a result of India’s usual parliamentary political horse-trading.”
The magazine further said, “But, according to allegations that led to Raja resigning late last year, he presided over the underpricing of bandwidth to mobile companies — apparently in return for bribes — which some estimate may have cost the Indian government around USD 7 billion.
“That figure makes it hands down the largest episode of graft in Indian history, and played a part in the withering defeats Raja’s party sustained in local elections in early May. Raja himself now languishes in jail as the snail-paced Indian judicial system inches the case forward.”
Other persons included in the list include former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski, former president of Israel Moshe Katsav, Roger Vangheluwe, who stepped down as Bishop of Bruge, former head of China’s State Food and Drug Administration Zheng Xiaoyu and US Secretary of the Interior in 1922 Albert Fall.