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2G scam: Tata 'candid', Radia 'evasive' before PAC

Monday April 04, 2011 08:29:57 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia were Monday questioned by parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in its search of the scam-tainted money trail in the 2G spectrum allocation by former communications minister Andimuthu Raja.

PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi told reporters after the separate questioning of the two that Radia appeared "evasive" in her replies but Tata was "candid enough" to answer almost all the questions.

Radia, chairperson of Vaishnavi Corporate Communications who was a liason officer for Tata and other telecom companies, "was evasive in her replies and answered here and there", Joshi said.

The PAC chairman said, "Tata on the other hand was very candid. He answered all the questions openly and promised to get back to the committee with the questions (about which) he didn't know".

"'I don't know, I don't remember, this is not my voice, I have not heard these tapes', was her refrain to many questions," Joshi said about Radia's responses.

Radia was accompanied before the PAC by two of her senior colleagues Manoj Warrier and Yateesh Wahaal.

She was questioned for nearly two hours. She reached Parliament House around 11 a.m. but was asked to wait till 12 as the panel members were still discussing questions to be asked.

Tata appeared before the panel shortly after 3 p.m. and his questioning went on till about 6 p.m.

Joshi said they were questioned about "all the issues" but didn't specify what the questions were.

Asked if the panel sought clarification on Radia's relations with corporates, telecom officials and journalists, Joshi said: "I cannot say specifics but all questions were asked."

He said the panel has sought clarifications from her on the tapped conversations, including allegations of trying to influence cabinet formation of the UPA-II government.

Radia, according to the tapes, is alleged to have been pitching for DMK leader A. Raja to get the IT and communications portfolio. Raja had to step down in November last in the wake of allegations that the 2G spectrum allocation in 2008 had caused huge financial losses to the exchequer. He has been arrested and is now in Tihar Jail.

Joshi said when Radia denied having listened to the tapes she was asked about the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is also looking into the case, naming her as a witness in its charge sheet filed Saturday.

"She then said she has listened to some of the tapes and we asked her to give us the list of the tapes she has listened," Joshi said.

While Joshi refused to give more details on the questioning, sources told IANS that Radia denied having played any role in the cabinet formation or lobbying for the corporates.

On Tuesday, the PAC has asked Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani, Etisalat DB Telecom CEO Atul Jhamb, S-Tel CEO Shamik Das and Unitech Wireless managing director Sigve Brekke to appear before it.






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