TEHELKA’s exposé of DMK leader and Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran’s involvement in a Rs 700 crore telecom scam (Hello? Who Will Bell This Cat by Ashish Khetan and Raman Kirpal, 4 June) has created a political storm. It showed how Maran, during his tenure as telecom minister in UPA-1, allotted licences without revising the 2001 rates to Aircel. In a possible quid pro quo, Maxis owner Ananda Krishnan invested Rs 700 crore in Sun Direct TV and Sun Radio, a company owned and run by Maran’s brother Kalanidhi and his wife Kaveri. While Maran has sued TEHELKA for what his lawyer calls “a concocted lie under the pretext of investigative journalism”, there is a growing demand for his resignation. Reports even suggest that the CBI might soon summon Maran.
One of the petitioners in the case and leading Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan has submitted an affidavit along with TEHELKA’s story in the apex court and requested the inclusion of Maran in the investigation.
The Congress has already distanced itself from the issue and has said that the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) would look into the matter. JPC Chairman PC Chacko has confirmed that the committee has requested for information from the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) on the basis of TEHELKA’s story. Here are some more reactions.
PC Chacko MP & Chairman, JPC on telecom
‘On the basis of TEHELKA’s story and other information available I have already written to the DoT to send detailed information during his period. It’s been suggested that we call all the former ministers and secretaries of telecom ministry before the committee. We are going to decide on it soon.’
Prashant Bhushan Petitioner in the 2G case
‘This is a strong and credible exposé. It clearly shows that Maran needs to be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He should be immediately stripped of his power. The CBI has to immediately swing into action. He should be arrested and chargesheeted. We are taking up the matter in the Supreme Court on the basis of TEHELKA’s story.’
Ravi Shankar Prasad BJP General Secretary
‘As the principal Opposition party, we have some questions such as whether Maxis Group had invested in Sun TV before purchasing the 74 percent stake in Aircel and isn’t that a case of conflict of interest. Now that these questions are lurking in the public domain, the prime minister is responsible for answering them. I heard that Maran has sent legal notice to a media house (TEHELKA). He should instead come up with proper documents to show that there is no investment by Maxis in Sun TV or any of his family-owned business. This is not only a matter of conflict of interest but also a matter of abusing dominant position, which is a crime according to the Prevention of Corruption Act. One interesting thing that has come out is that family ventures of DMK politicians are increasingly becoming the route of investment for slush money. Be it Sun TV or Kalaignar TV.’
V Maitreyan Aiadmk MP & Spokesperson
‘When we were in power, we wanted to end the monopoly of one family controlling the cable network. We got a Bill passed in the Assembly for the state government to take over the network. But Karunanidhi and Maran managed to stall the Bill by requesting the governor not to approve it. The AIADMK made it clear in its manifesto that the cable network will be taken over by the state government. It will be done soon.’
Khushboo DMK Spokesperson
‘This is all media speculation. Let Maran speak first. He will have to come and speak for himself. Whatever the facts are now can be disproved later. Nothing is true unless it is proved true under law.’
Manish Tewari MP & Congress Spokesperson
‘If a question has been asked about Dayanidhi Maran, obviously, he will be the best person to answer it. But I must mention that the JPC is doing its job. It will examine all issues including the telecom policy through the years.’
Cho S Ramaswamy Editor, Tughlak
‘Dayanidhi set up a base for A Raja, who was involved in bigger scams. The corruption by the Marans started when Murasoli Maran was a Union minister. They started building Sun TV and misused their power to build business worth billions. They even threatened cable operators to telecast only their channels. Though Kalanidhi Maran is running it professionally now, Sun TV would have been nowhere without the initial muscle-flexing.’