New Delhi: Pushed to the wall after CBI named him in the 2G spectrum allocation case, high-profile Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran on Thursday resigned from the Union Cabinet, becoming the second DMK casualty in the scam.

44-year-old Maran met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after a Cabinet meeting and tendered his resignation following a word from DMK chief M Karunanidhi, highly-placed  sources said.

Maran's continuance in the Cabinet became untenable after the CBI in its status report on the 2G scam case on Wednesday, charged him with "forcing" a Chennai-based telecom
promoter C Sivasankaran to sell  his stakes in Aircel to a Malaysian firm in 2006 during his tenure as Telecom Minister in UPA-I.

The Prime Minister is believed to have had a word with DMK Parliamentary Party chief T R Baalu this morning and conveyed to him that the DMK leadership should be apprised of the position that Maran cannot continue in the cabinet.

Baalu, who is in Delhi, is understood to have conveyed this to Karunanidhi who later asked Maran to put in his papers.

It was business as usual for Maran in the morning as he attended the Cabinet meeting during which he abstained himself for a brief while when the issue of licence for FM channels came up.

He kept himself away on account of conflict of interest because his brother Kalanidhi Maran runs a media empire that includes FM channels in various languages.

Maran went back home from the Cabinet meeting and returned later to give his resignation to the Prime Minister on the DMK chief's direction.

Maran, son of late Union Minister Muralosi Maran, is a grand nephew of Karunanidhi.

With this, Maran becomes the second DMK minister to step down for alleged involvement in 2G scam. Former Telecom Minister A Raja was forced to resign in November, 2010 when
the CAG indicted him in the scam.

Karunanidhi's daughter and DMK MP Kanimozhi and Raja are currently in Tihar jail for their alleged involvement in the scam.

This is the second time Maran is quitting the Cabinet. The first time he quit was in 2007 when the DMK decided to withdraw him from the Cabinet after differences cropped up
within the DMK's first family.

Later, he made a re-entry into the Cabinet in May, 2009 after the elections, but got only the Textiles portfolio.

The CBI, in its report, also said that during 2004-07 when Maran was telecom Minister, Sivasankaran, was forced to sell the stake in Aircel to a Malaysian firm Maxis Group.

There was intense speculation for the past one month about Maran's continuance in the Union Cabinet after reports alleging that the family-owned Sun TV received pay-offs from a
Malaysian firm in return for the spectrum alloted to it during Maran's tenure surfaced.

Resignation 'long overdue': Opposition

Opposition parties, including the BJP and AIADMK, on Thursday termed Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran's resignation from the Union Cabinet as "long overdue" and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to explain as to why action against "corrupt" ministers was delayed.

They also said the resignation was "too little" and "too late" and that the CBI presented the "true facts" with regard to the 2G Spectrum scam only because the investigations are being monitored by the Supreme Court.

The BJP said Maran's resignation was "long overdue" and demanded that Home Minister P Chidambaram too should follow suit.

"P Chidambaram should resign. We have already demanded this as the 2G spectrum scam could not have occured had the Finance Ministry (then headed by him) not changed its stand on the issue of auctioning radiowaves," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said on Thursday.

In Chennai, AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa said it was long overdue and that the Prime Minister should have made him quit earlier.

"This is something long overdue. The Prime Minister should have made him to resign long ago," she said.

CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat said Maran resigned because there was no alternative for him and sought an explanation from the Prime Minister on the issue.
CPI leader D Raja termed the resignation of Maran as "too late" and sought Prime Minister's explanation on the development.

"The resignation of Maran is too late. He should have done long time back as the allegations are very serious. Now it is for the Prime Minister to explain to the people and to Parliament," he said.

(JPN/ Agencies)