New Delhi: Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia’s latest revelations that Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar controlled the controversial DB Realty and was also responsible for the allotment of 2G license for Swan Telecom will certainly give the political heavyweight sleepless nights.
Tata firms’ PR handler Niira Radia has made these sensational revelations during her interrogation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connections with the 2G spectrum scam.
According to a report published in DNA, the 25-page four interrogation statements, reveals some other interesting facts, including the demand by 2G scam accused and former telecom minister A Raja that Tata Sky, the satellite dish service, carry Kalaignar TV, the channel run by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi; the demand by Raja’s private secretary RK Chandolia for a Jaguar car dealership once the Tatas bought the British car company; and an account by Radia of Raja shouting at Chandan Mitra, whose paper The Pioneer had relentlessly pursued the 2G scam.
With regard to Pawar, who has denied any link with former DB managing director Shahid Balwa (now in CBI custody), Radia told the CBI, “On being asked as to how I came to know that Sharad Pawar had called Raja to get the approvals done and everything, more than the involvement of Pawar there is an involvement of Anil Ambani for getting the licence of Swan, I state that as per the general perceptions in Mumbai as well as outside, DB Realities (sic) is directly or indirectly controlled by Sharad Pawar and his family members.”
Radia added that since Balwa and Vinod Goenka were the key persons in DB, with “that background only I had quoted the name of Sharad Pawar who might have pursued the matter with Raja, then telecom minister, for showing to Swan as well as Anil Ambani Reliance Communications in issuing of UAS licence and dual technology.”
Radia admitted, however, that though she went through the shareholding details of Swan, she could not get documentary evidence of Pawar’s links.
Elsewhere in the combined statement, Radia mentioned a conversation she had with Chandolia on May 15, 2009, in which they discussed the possible electoral outcome in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. “The second issue discussed was about spectrum allocation,” she said. “And Chandolia was asking to explore the dealership of Jaguar. Jaguar cars, which was taken over by Tata Group worldwide, was being launched in India very soon.”
Radia later mentioned a conversation in which she is heard saying “Oh don’t do that!” to the revelation by the minister’s office that spectrum for four states was being released. “There had been a request from the minister’s office for Tata Sky to host Kalaignar TV on its platform,” she said. Interestingly, Kalaignar TV was set up by Karunanidhi’s family when it split from former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi, owner of Sun TV (also a rival of Tata Sky). The families reconciled in 2009.
Lastly, Radia mentioned how she called up Raja one day: “In this call I appraised Mr A Raja about the article in The Pioneer against him or his family members… It was about Green House Promoters and something to do with DB Group… When he got upset on the phone, I suggested to him to speak to Chandan Mitra directly.” She probably didn’t anticipate the result, when she later called up Chandolia: “In this call I heard the minister shouting at Chandan Mitra in the background.”
Meanwhile, Union Minister Sharad Pawar had categorically rejected Radia’s allegations that he controls the controversial firm DB Reality.