Dehradun: In a sensational disclosure, Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata on Monday revealed that he was asked for a bribe of Rs 15 crore when he wanted to start a domestic airline in the 1990s.
Tata said that he had approached three Prime Ministers to push for his case but all his efforts were thwarted by an “individual”.
Later, he was asked to pay Rs 15 crore as bribe to the Union minister to get a favourable government response to his proposal to start an airline.
"Several years ago, Tatas were trying to set up a domestic airlines in collaboration with Singapore Airlines. Even though we were pioneer in airline industry, we had enormous problems if you remember through the reports in the media,” Rata Tata told reporters here.
"We approached three Prime Ministers also. But an individual thwarted our efforts to form the airlines," he added.
"I happened to be on a flight once and another industrialist who was sitting next to me said: `I don`t understand. You people are stupid. You know the minister wants Rs.15 crore. So why don`t you pay it?`," Tata said, about the conversation.
"I just said: `You can`t understand it. I just want to go to bed at night, knowing that I haven`t got the airline by paying for it`," he said.
‘No postponing retirement’
Ratan Tata also made it clear that there was no change in his plans to retire in 2012 even as he assured a successor who is committed to "ethics and value".
Tata, who took the USD 72 billion company to new heights and made the world`s cheapest car Nano, has already announced he will quit office by the end of 2012.
"I don`t want to change my deadline I set for my retirement. There are lots of sacrifices, one has to make in terms of personal life. I wanted my life back. I want to enjoy the things that I wanted to do," the top industrialist said.
In August this year, the Board of Tata Sons Ltd had formed a selection committee comprising five members, including an external member, for eventually deciding on a suitable successor to Ratan N Tata.
"There is no such thing indispensably individual. The day I succeeded JRD Tata, I felt in very large shoes. I knew that I cannot be another JRD and I have to be my own person," Tata said in reply to a question after delivering a lecture here.
"I believe my successor will be his own person and hopefully will do things for the country and the group the way we have been doing till now or much better.
"I ferociously wanted to ensure that my successor has total commitment for ethics and values, we fought for years now," Tata said.
The top industrialist was responding to a query from audience after delivering 8th Uttarakhand foundation lecture on "India in the 21st century: Opportunities and Challenges" on the occasion of 10th anniversery of formation of hill state.
Tata observed there are two kinds of persons, one, who go back home on their own feet and another, "who go in a box".
"I have told my shareholders that I do not want to go back in a box," he said.
(With PTI inputs)