on lobbyists, journalists reveal links at top?
Thursday November 18, 2010 07:22:05 PM,
Days after the resignation of A. Raja as communications minister
over the 2G spectrum scandal, Open magazine has uploaded on its
website what it claims are phone chats among leading lobbyists,
industrialists, politicians and journalists, giving a sneak peek
into what it says are the "networks of power" reflecting "how this
country is run".
The transcripts of conversations on the website -- both as
transcripts and audio filed -- pertain to the time after 2009
elections when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was putting
together the ministerial list.
The bulk of the conversations purportedly refer to the intense
lobbying -- and even counter-lobbying -- that went into securing
ministerial berths for members of the DMK and how each person in
the fray was trying to outdo the other.
The introduction to what are called X-Tapes, on the website of the
magazine brought by the RPG Group, says: "The phone lines of the
head of Vaishnavi Communication, Niira Radia, were twice placed
under surveillance by the Income Tax Department (based on a
tip-off by the Central Board of Direct Taxes) for a few months in
2008 and 2009. Niira Radia is a woman of formidable networking and
PR skills, so much so that she represents both the Tata and the
Mukesh Ambani group. Some of these recorded phone conversations
are now available with Open; they were placed before the Supreme
Court this week by petitioners Centre for Public Interest
Litigation, represented by senior counsel Prashant Bhushan.
"He had moved the Supreme Court with a plea that the 2G spectrum
investigation that involves Raja should be monitored by the Court
in view of the mounting evidence."
Quoting the petitioners, it said: "These conversations were given
by the Directorate of Income Tax (Investigations) to the CBI more
than a year back. A copy of the taped conversations of Radia with
Respondent No. 5 (A. Raja), other politicians, Ratan Tata, other
corporates, senior journalists and certain middlemen in a CD are
annexed as Annexure P35... Some of the transcripts of the
conversations which relate to the lobbying for making Respondent
No. 5 as Telecom Minister are annexed as Annexure P36."
These recordings, which appear to be only a small part of the
recordings made available by the IT department to the CBI, were
made in the period of surveillance from May 11, 2009 to July 11,
2009, the magazine said.
It went on to say that the magazine was in no position to endorse
the contents of the recordings. But as the material was now in the
public domain, it was placing them on record. It said the
transcripts formed "just a small part of the information contained
in the recordings submitted to the court".
The magazine did not make any attempt to get the versions of the
personalities named in the transcript.
In response to a mail from IANS, Open editor Manu Joseph said: "I
am confident of the authenticity of the tapes. Otherwise we would
not have carried the story.
"Also, the transcripts are from a set of recordings that have been
presented as evidence in the Supreme Court in a petition filed Nov
15 by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation."
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