The former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman Pradip Baijal has in a self-published book, The Complete Story of Indian Reforms: 2G, Power and Private Enterprise — A Practitioner’s Diary , has alleged that it was Pranab Mukherjee, as Union Finance Minister, who had exposed the two accused in the 2G Scam, former Telecom Minister A. Raja and former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura.
Further, Mr. Baijal has written that in his view, a report by Mr. Mukerjee dated March 25, 2011, when he was the UPA government’s Finance Minister, “conclusively proved” that the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and the then Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, “were working together with Raja … However, as is often the case in India, only Raja and Siddharth Behura were held responsible”.
According to the book, a soft copy of which is available with The Hindu , Mr. Baijal had expressed his “misgivings” to Dr. Singh over the appointment of Dayanidhi Maran as the Minister for Telecom in 2004, but he dismissed these concerns. As a result, Mr. Baijal said, “…had no choice but to retreat … the Prime Minister was no longer reformist, but a prisoner in the hands of the coalition partners, party functionaries and operators, not any longer concerned about provisions in law”.
Mr. Baijal has written that many people had protested against Mr. Maran’s appointment, but “the Prime Minister, a typical bureaucrat, did not do anything sticking to a bureaucrat’s typical adage ‘let sleeping dog’s lie’.”
Maran asked officials to skip meetings in PMO: Baijal
The former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman Pradip Baijal has alleged in a self-published book that the then Telecom Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, directed the officers in the Ministry not to attend the meetings of committees Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had appointed in his office, including one he himself chaired. “He [Mr. Maran] told me that he was ‘Prime Minister, Telecom’ and …that I had no business meeting the PM ... He warned that I would come to severe harm if I did not comply”.
On the CBI inquiries that Mr. Baijal faced after his retirement in 2006, he alleged that the agency “would alternately threaten to harm me and my family and then dangle a carrot of sparing me if I implicated Ratan Tata and Arun Shourie … This was suspiciously similar to Maran’s threats in 2004… Maran knew exactly what I discussed with the PM … I can only surmise that they were all working in tandem, possibly along with the PM, Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal at different stages.”
He has further alleged that the UPA II government gave “unrestrained powers” to the CBI to deal with its political opponents, hoping to “cover up their own sins by forcing CBI Directors to make choices in their favour”.
He has written that the former Steel Minister N.K.P. Salve, with whom he had worked previously, “….very kindly told Harish Salve [his son] to help me, and that he would pay my fee, if Harish Salve charged it”. According to Mr. Baijal, Mr. N.P.K. Salve advised Mr. Chidambaram against initiating enquiries against him.
Mr. Baijal’s successor as Secretary, Disinvestment, and TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar, according to the book, was asked by “senior people in government” to investigate all disinvestment deals again, “and finds faults” with Mr. Baijal. “He [Mr. Khullar] also warned me that he will have to find a few [faults with Mr. Baijal]”.
Mr. Baijal has further disclosed that after he retired as TRAI Chairman in March 2006, “many at the decision-making levels in the Congress party” started discussions with him on his appointment as Governor. Without revealing any names, Mr. Baijal has written that he told those who had approached him that he was only interested in going to Arunachal Pradesh as Governor. He says he lost interest in the “opportunity” after he was told that a hydropower project he was keenly interested in developing in Arunachal Pradesh was a contentious political issue which could not be opened.
He disclosed that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had agreed to help him in the CBI inquiries and cases against him along with Harish Salve, pro-bono. However, Mr. Jaitley, writes Mr. Baijal, “was of the view that after the brilliant work done as Secretary, Disinvestment, and Chairman, TRAI, I was occupying a pedestal in public mind, and I made myself vulnerable when I decided to come down the pedestal and become a consultant”.
Mr. Baijal was post-retirement a consultant to a host of companies, including the Tata Group, and also some owned by controversial lobbyist Niira Radia.