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Updated: June 1, 2011 21:47 IST

Did Sun Network benefit from pay-offs during Maran's tenure as Telecom Minister, asks BJP

PTI
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Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran. File Photo
Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran. File Photo

Irregularities, if any, can be looked into JPC: Congress

The UPA government on Tuesday faced fresh attack from the Opposition on corruption when the BJP asked Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran to answer charges that his family-owned Sun TV Network was a beneficiary of pay-offs by a Malaysian company, which benefited from equity sold by Aircel.

“There are new scandals in the UPA government everyday. A new scandal is on the verge of being exposed. The cupboard of corruption of the UPA is overflowing and more skeletons are dying to come out,” BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said reacting to a media report in this regard.

Incidentally, Mr. Maran had a lengthy meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday night after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs.

Mr. Prasad alleged that during Mr. Maran's tenure as Telecom Minister there were some financial anomalies, which benefited companies owned by his family. “We know Maran's family owns the Sun TV Network which also has direct-to-home service. During his tenure as Telecom Minister the FDI norm was changed and the telecom sector FDI norm was increased to 74 per cent. Aircel, a telecom company which only had a licence for Tamil Nadu, later got licence for 14 new areas,” Mr. Prasad said.

The BJP alleged that 74 per cent stake in Aircel was purchased by a Malaysian company, Maxis Communication, when Mr. Maran was Telecom Minister. “Mr. Maran, will you please explain if Maxis Communication company has made any investment in [the] Sun DTH company or any other of your family-owned companies? Secondly, was this investment done through Astro Group company, which is a subsidiary of Maxis Communication,” Mr. Prasad asked.

He also sought to know whether the investment made in Sun Network by Maxis Communication was done after the latter bought 74 per cent equity of Aircel.

“He should also clarify if in any way a foreign investor has invested in Sun Network when Mr. Maran was a Minister. Is there a conflict of interest here or not? As a responsible Opposition party, we are raising important questions purely in national interest,” Mr. Prasad said.

He also asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clarify his position on the issue.

“As you all know, the authority of determining the pricing of spectrum was taken out of the purview of the Group of Ministers on the insistence of Dayanidhi Maran,” Mr. Prasad said.

Mr. Prasad maintained that instead of threatening the BJP, Mr. Maran should answer these queries with proper documentary proof.

He insisted that the consequences of the change in FDI were well-known.

“Earlier, the Prime Minister said on October 26, 2009, that A. Raja is innocent when the CBI had started the inquiry [into 2G spectrum allocation]. We would request Manmohan Singh to learn from his past mistakes. Some questions are being raised. Please reply to them,” Mr. Prasad said.

Mr. Prasad said that if Mr. Maran had “misused his dominant position” as a Minister, his actions would come under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He wondered why the routing of slush money was increasingly being done by companies owned by DMK leaders, be it Kalaignar TV (in which Kanimozhi has a 20 per cent stake) or the Sun Network.

However, the Congress washed its hands of the controversy surrounding Mr. Maran. “If a question has been asked from Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran, obviously he will be the best person to answer it,” party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters in reply to a volley of questions on the issue.

At the same time, Mr. Tewari indicated that irregularities, if any, during Mr. Maran's tenure could be looked into by the Joint Parliamentary Committee, which was looking into the 2G spectrum allocation scam. Mr. Tewari is also a member of the JPC.

Mr. Tewari said there was already a JPC to deal with “aberrations and irregularities, if any, that might have taken place. The JPC has been given the mandate by Parliament to examine the alleged irregularities in Telecom sector since 1999 to 2008.”

Replying to questions whether the JPC should look into allegations against Mr. Maran and whether he should appear before it, Mr. Tewari said the panel could go into the issue on its own or after any complaint “obviously if the thing appears in public space and if the JPC requires.”

Asked when A. Raja had resigned after similar allegations why should Mr. Maran continue, Mr. Tiwari said: “I have said what I have to say.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Maran slapped a legal notice on Tehelka magazine over a report in this regard.

Bad job. I used to take pride once when we had so many cabinet ministers from TN. Now it has become a matter of shame. DMK has lost its credibility, more so TN's pride has taken big blow..More DMK flowers to wilt in Tihar for now.

from:  Ganesh
Posted on: Jun 7, 2011 at 23:19 IST

People of India should trounce the Congress from the power by next election. It is really sad that we have a Prime Minister who does not know or deliberately not know about what's happening.
Its really shocking that they do not even to listen to people's voice and even after Court intervention. It is also joke of the year, the Prime Minister is making statement that we should root out corruption as if he is not incharge of all these irregularities.
This is the worst regime of Congress leadership. People should throw away this corrupted Government by next election. Not even single person from Congress to win the election in India.

from:  S.Suresh
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 16:49 IST

I dont know what our prime minister is doing, just simply sitting in PM chair as a dummy.

from:  karthic
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 16:05 IST

In almost all cases where an employee is suspected of wrongdoing they are suspended so that they would not be in a position to interfere in the inquiry. Like wise in this instance the same procedure should be followed

from:  rama
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 14:01 IST

It's very clear that at least a few of these many questions cannot be answered directly or indirectly. Firstly, why can't the PM take an immediate action for his alliance parties ? reason is simple - he is controlled by a other force (party leader for congress). It's like people are really interdependent - they are in fear to make any move. This will not take these cases anywhere- point the finger on someone in turn & always. Now its obvious a bit more hard to say all these are straight forward corruptions, because people are all educated (see Mr Maran is a Howard student) & of course they will play a smart high level professional games to get things. Anyway it's basically we as Indians should be ashamed to elect these guys, I honestly trust that a military regeim would be good as a change.

from:  Prasad Narayana
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 10:31 IST

Never after Annadurai's exit DMK stood for high values.It's high time that honourable Supreme Court and CBI took appropriate action against these people.

from:  parthasarathy
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 10:11 IST

When the 2G & 3G Spectrum allotments attracted the attention of CAG, who brought irrregularities in the allotment to the attention of the Govt and public, how come the alleged malfeasance on the part of the former Telecom Minister, during his tenure, escaped his close scrutiny, I wonder? Such matters in a Govt Dept is normally detected first by the Audit Dept and in turn reported by them to CAG. Were there such observations, by 'Internal Audit' is a matter that merits a close look. I am inclined to hold the view', once a 'prima facie' case is established by whichever Govt authority, then the Minister concerned should be asked to step down immediately, as a matter of 'principle'and tradition by our Politicians, party affliations notwithstanding? Can we expect such a responsible response? Undoubtedly, The Prime Minister,regardless of his 'unblemished personal credibility' should set an example now atleast by initiating urgent action and send out a 'strong messge' to all political parties and also to the beauracracy. I don't think we are short of 'Laws' but we only lack the will to take strong-arm action, which is the root-cause of our today's ills.

from:  Sundarar rajan Krishnamurti
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 05:00 IST

Even before the telecom scandal exploded Maran brothers were known to have misused their proximity to the chief Minister of the state and built a Cable TV Network empire. They had bullied or bought all the competitors in TV, Radio and Print media so that the entire communication industry was at their mercy which the DMK used for its political purposes. As Jayalalitha has been saying often "Karunanidhi and his entire clan have made corruption into a fine art as never before."

from:  V.V.S.Mani
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 22:46 IST

I am always a pessimist when it comes to taking action against Ministers, as they are protected strongly by the Constitution. That is only because people who vote them into power do it with full conscience. In spite of discussing in forums and much ado, we promote corruption in our day-to-day lives. Are we the ones to blame for this?

from:  Bharani
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 21:55 IST

It seems like that DMK continued to gain a lot from telecom portfolio. The events must be completely investigated.

from:  karthik veda
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 20:52 IST

Manmohan Singh can't do much. BJP is nowhere so to speak , neither it has the leaders nor the agenda.

Yes its true as someone pointed out, whatever media publishes need not be true.

from:  Calvin Das
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 19:31 IST

Governance!!!! this is just a tip of a bigger, BIGGER and BIGGER iceberg!!! Law makers are and have been law breakers and that means we have a huge systemic issue!! The only way we can see an answer is to have all the law and order agencies including investigation, tax, ED agencies should be brougt under Supreme Court which is the only set up that can save Mother India!!

from:  Ragha
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 19:23 IST

Prima facie, the case against Mr. Maran looks quite grim. One thing is clear, if the allegations are true then it exposes the modus operandi of the DMK to make their gains while at the Centre, and if they had a shred of integrity they should resign.

However, the timing of this case (post DMK rout) and specifically the fact that it was exposed by a well-known Congress sympathizer Tehelka, raises certain questions as to whether the Congress is trying to put the final nail in the coffin of its erstwhile ally after realizing that it's no longer a mutually beneficial relationship. It does seem highly suspect that such activities took place without collusion with some in the Congress high command, and now they are happy to pin the entire blame on a down and out ally.

from:  Dipto Kar
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 18:13 IST

I think what is written in 'THE HINDU' - “It is a big war. We have to change the system of 64 years”. The Lokpal bill should come to force immediately,and the punishments should be severe. People should no more think its 'OK' to give or accept bribe, this mind set can be changed only if media takes this seriously and communicate it to the people.

from:  Stephen
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 18:11 IST

Why everybody is talking about Raja and Maran only. What about T.R.Balu and the crores earned through shipping ministry. Why people are shy about talking about the enormous money made by Balu and DMK while he was shipping minister. The entire lok sabha polls in Tamilnadu in 2006 was financed from the money collected by Balu and even the Prime Minister refused to take him in the subsequent ministry. Should we have JPC for each and every minister of DMK? Lokpal bill should definitely include the Prime Minister and the MPs as otherwise the very purpose of the bill will be defeated.

from:  Vaipar Sankar
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 18:07 IST

Since the first ministry was formed by DMK it has been shrouded by corruption.

from:  RAJA RAO
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 17:59 IST

Dayanithi Maran is a gentleman. this allegation is wrong. people know about Maran.

from:  skumar
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 17:54 IST

At last all the corrupt actions of the DMK family is emerging. In fact more are to come like mining of granite all along from Tirupatthi to Rameswaram. These granite is a very rare and is known for its dexterity and is the very reason for all the hundreds of temples with fabulous workmanship came up all along this route thousands of years ago all over the area. M K Alagiri ( son of karunanidhi)is the head of a mafia illegally mining this granite and exporting earning billions slashed oversaes. Will Government of India enquire and put a stop forthwith. THE HINDU please study this further and save the nation her real wealth

from:  K V Krishnan
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 15:54 IST

Unfortunately it is difficult to believe everything an overactive media says. It is also unfortunate that politicians have stooped to this level. What is the use of claiming to have a great history, heritage and culture, if this is all we can derive out of it today?

from:  P Bharat
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 15:38 IST

It's quite unbelievable that the PM was not aware of such illegal actions. If an ordinary citizen of India has access to so much information about alleged actions of Maran and others, obviously, the PM is likely to have had some idea of it through his numerous contacts in media, industry, bureaucracy, politicians, etc. So, it's most likely that he choose to look the other way while these were happening.

from:  Ramesh Hariharan
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 15:23 IST

Because it is a goose, laying Golden eggs, Karunanidhi did not want to lose Telecom Ministry from his party. Even PM has confessed that the Portfolio is allotted to DMK gang under 'collusion' compulsion.DMK managed to share and grab silently the nation's assets among its family members.

from:  Bangaraju
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 15:11 IST

Its really a gratitude on Honourable supreme court directives stringently asking Govt to clarify on issues of black money, but very shame on Govt part even not able to presnt the action report which has recieved a fury of Honourable judges. Its fortune or misfortune to see the Govts backing of vested interest and its ideology to grant a sucpicious code of conduct in enquieries and stimulus to patch up the legal loop holes in the way of court. The above case of 3G SCAhe M should bee seen in the light of Black money conversions and its jurdiction should be scoped to cover the entire episode.

from:  Achchut
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 14:59 IST

The telecom ministry has been left to be treated as the private property of the DMK in the UPA Govt. How is it that the PM has not concerned himself about the goings on in this Ministry? Maran has to explain. Also the PM.

from:  G.Naryanaswamy
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 14:58 IST

Action needs to be taken and impact of the action taken needs to be witnessed and felt by one and all.

from:  Pavan Peechara
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 13:12 IST

Looks Maran's actions during his tenure as IT minister are now exposed. How come the Prime Minister, his cabinet colleagues, senior officers of Income Tax, Foreign Exchange, Reserve bank and other government departments have been so knave not to become suspicious of wrong doing under their very nose. Was it another compulsion under the coalition dharma? Or, were there persons in high positions and power who were also connected? It is now time for the Prime Minister to be firm in action. Will he at least now rise to the occasion?

from:  K.Venkataraman
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 13:11 IST

I think the current period will be the darkest period in the history of India with corruption spread everywhere firmly like cancer.

from:  Easwaran
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 12:54 IST

It seems UPA is full of corrupt leaders. Need strong rules as China for anti-corruption.

from:  Thomas Chazhi
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 12:40 IST

If Dayanidhi Maran and A.Raja as ministers in the Manmohan Singh government could allot 2G spectrum as they pleased at throw-away prices without the approval of the PM and his cabinet, then the PM and his government are guilty of gross misgovernance resulting in huge losses to the country. But if the actions of the two ministers had their approval, they are also as guilty as these ministers. There is no escape from this grave situation for the Prime Minister and his government in spite of the best efforts of the Congress party and the PM's friends in the media.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 12:39 IST

Whatever media publishes need not be true...first BJP should ask Susma Swaraj how much she benefited from mining lobby in Karnataka before asking others.

from:  rajdeep
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 11:46 IST

This is goes on to prove that the proposed Lokpal bill should cover the Prime Minister and all the MPs and Judges, the Government's suggestion of Self-regulation for these honourable citizens is simply not going to work. Corruption should be treated as treason.

from:  xavier surender
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 10:10 IST

For a person, who said, politicians do make money when in power.. this is not surprising.. Moreover, Sun TV being a family run business, would have obtained the DTH for free while others would have incurred an additional costs for approval. For once, there is signs of some good findings.. Let this not be an eyewash to cover-up some major under the table dealing..

from:  Ram
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 07:26 IST

If successive ministers in charge of the telecom ministry could, as alleged, indulge in corrupt practices which resulted in huge losses for the country, it means that the Prime Minister and his cabinet did not know about this or did not bother to do do anything about it. Either way the PM and the cabinet have much to answer for. The Indian media with a few exceptions and even the opposition parties however concentrate only on th Rajas and Marans of this world, thereby protecting the government as a whole from any serious criticism.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 05:58 IST

There is a clear case against Dayanidhi Maran. He should step down till the enquiry against him is complete. Will the PM act fast atleast now?

from:  K ANANTHA NARAYANAN
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 04:16 IST

In an entirely different context, the great Tamil scholar, Thiru.Vi.Kalyanasundaranar told Lord Wellington, 'When the Doomsday comes....' The moral was that all misdeeds would eventually meet their Waterloo. Let us fervently hope, if these allegations are true,that the wrongdoers will get exemplary punishment from the Law & the People.

from:  Soundararajan Srinivasa
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 01:54 IST

It is very sad that party like DMK which once stood for high ideals has become symbol for corruption and nepotism.There were earlier allegations against Maran threatening TATAs and now another allegation .It is high time that nexus between ministers and corporates are unraveled and we need a strong leadership who is not only personally honest but can lead a honest team.

from:  Harish J
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 00:16 IST
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