By Brijesh Pandey
WAS IT the linguistic inability of Dayalu Ammal or her ability to make the political temperature unbearable both in New Delhi and Tamil Nadu that ensured her exclusion from the supplementary chargesheet filed by the CBI in the special court in Delhi?
Like former telecom minister A Raja, Rajya Sabha MP MK Kanimozhi could be the ‘fall guy’ in the larger scheme to save Dayalu Ammal and the subsequent fallout on Tamil Nadu’s first family. Dayalu is the mother of Deputy Chief Minister MK Stalin and Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister MK Azhagiri, and nailing her would have brought the DMK-Congress coalition to a point of no return.
The CBI is seen as having performed a balancing act in the supplementary chargesheet. It seemed logical to observers that since Dayalu Ammal owned a 60 percent stake in Kalaignar TV, she would be named as an accused, but instead, in a curious twist, she was named as a witness.
The CBI chargesheet reads, “According to the minutes of a board meeting held on 27 July 2007, she categorically informed that in view of her old age, deteriorating health and inability to understand any language other than Tamil, she cannot be expected to give any attention to the company’s affairs and said that she will attend the meeting only to suffice the legal requirement.”
But the gloves were off when it came to Kanimozhi. The CBI chargesheet says, “Kanimozhi was a stakeholder of Kalaignar TV to the tune of 20 percent and was an active brain behind its operations. She also actively pursued with the intermediaries and DMK headquarters the matter regarding reappointment of accused Raja as telecom minister in 2009, which clearly establishes the strong association of Kanimozhi and Raja. Apart from this, Raja was pursuing the cause of Kalaignar TV, not only for getting registration of the company from the ministry but also for getting it in the Tata Sky bouquet.”
The chargesheet further reads, “Investigation has established that pursuant to the criminal conspiracy, accused Raja, Sharad Kumar and Kanimozhi, stakeholders and directors of Kalaignar TV, received an illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore from accused Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka from the accounts of DB Group companies in lieu of the undue favours shown by Raja in allocation of UAS licences, valuable and scarce spectrum in telecom circles and other undue favours to Swan Telecom.”
There has been intense speculation that if both Dayalu Ammal and Kanimozhi are chargesheeted, the DMK might pull out its ministers from the Union Cabinet.
The Opposition parties were quick to point out the anomalies. According to BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman, “We are conscious of the fact that the whole case is being monitored by the Supreme Court. However, we can’t ignore that the 60 percent stakeholder of the company that is alleged to have benefited by the 2G scam money has been left out, while the 20 percent stakeholder has been charged. The law does not differentiate between passive and active ownership. Someone has to explain why this is happening.”
Tamil Nadu CPM unit chief T Pandian says, “It is well known that the main beneficiary of the 2G scam is the Karunanidhi family. It is not just one or two people, but the entire family was involved.”
Meanwhile, the DMK is downplaying the naming of Kanimozhi in the chargesheet. According to party leader TKS Elangovan, “The charges cannot be substantiated because the amount of money received by Kalaignar TV was in the form of a loan. That loan was repaid by the channel along with interest. The DMK is confident that both Kanimozhi and Raja will come out clean after the probe is completed.”
Because Kanimozhi has been charged with criminal conspiracy, sources close to the investigation are not ruling out her arrest on 6 May. If the trial court rejects Kanimozhi’s bail application, the political temperature in the national Capital will go up a few more notches.
Brijesh Pandey is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.