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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Telecom Minister: Zero to Rs 755 crore in 1 year!

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Another reign of corruption by Congress led UPA where Ministers openly use their clout and official address to forward their self interests. This is not the only corruption case by Congress, first Antonia Maino aka Sonia Gandhi's countless cases from Office of Profit to never ending Ottavio Quattrochi to Cash-for-Vote scam to have a Swiss bank account with $2 Billion in 1991 to partying after Mumbai terrorist attack, etc., etc. Please read here for more on her corruption and communal economics. Then TR Baalu's corruption cases of helping his son to procure transportation contracts, petroleum licenses, and communal Stubbornness to break Shri Ram Setu. Then fashion fanatic Ex-Home Minister Shivraj Patil's cases of corruption of subverting the laws to benefit his son Shailesh Patil and daughter-in-law Archana Patil. His son was using his father's official address for running his business and did all the fraud from there.

Now this, Overnight Crorepati Case involving Telecom Minister A Raja and his wife MA Parameswari. Amazingly, none of the print or television media is running the story except The Daily Pioneer.

Telecom Minister A Raja

Telecom Minister A Raja's wife MA Parameswari

The Daily Pioneer reports,
When the spectrum controversy began to spin out of control and Telecom Minister A Raja was recently attacked by political leaders from within the UPA and outside for his questionable decisions, his mentor and DMK leader M Karunanidhi condemned the critics as people who could “not tolerate the rise of a humble Dalit”. As it turns out, the ‘humble Dalit’ allowed his ministerial clout and official address to be used for businesses which later connected with the spectrum deal, now under the scanner of the high court and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

Not only did a commercial organisation, with the Minister’s wife as a director, begin operating from his official residence, well-placed sources said the information was concealed from the Prime Minister in violation of Service Rules. The Minister did not also deem it necessary to file an affidavit of ‘non-conflict of interest’ between his family’s business activities and his role as a Union Minister. In course of time, the address was changed and his wife officially withdrew from the firm. But the company’s association with the Raja family continued as closely as before, with the shares distributed among his kith and kin.


The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) was reportedly informed at every step as the Union Telecom Ministry, led by A Raja, kept getting involved in a series of controversial developments related to the spectrum allotment. The information came from not just senior telecom officials who were alarmed by a series of indefencible decisions the Ministry had taken, but also by Congress Members of Parliament.

Yet the PMO has remained silent.


Faced with a series of reports published in The Pioneer, exposing the spectrum allocation scandal, and with pressure building from the Opposition parties, the Telecom Ministry has swung into damage-control mode, seeking scapegoats to ‘fix responsibility’. This is a departure from its earlier defiant stand that no irregularity had been committed.


The failure to inform the Prime Minister and file an affidavit was not a one-time lapse or an ‘oversight’ by Raja. Wife Parameswari and the Minister’s relatives became active partners in another company floated a month after Green House came to exist. Breaching rules again, Raja did not inform the Prime Minister and filed no affidavit of non-conflict of interest. The new company, once again dealing in real estate, had a miraculously high turnover of Rs 755 crore in its very first year of operation.


And as in the Green House case, the managing director of this company too was Raja’s confidant, Sadhick Batcha, from the Minister’s Perambalur constituency. Raja’s nephew RP Paramesh Kumar became the joint managing director. And, like the earlier firm, this company was also based in Chennai. According to documents available with The Pioneer, it is this company which recorded a huge ‘domestic’ turnover of Rs 755 crore in the very first year of its operations.

There is no mention in the documents filed with the Registrar of Companies about the source of this turnover. Form 23AC — to be filled by private limited companies for filing balance sheets/profit and loss statements with the Registrar of Companies — does not give any information on the following heads mentioned in the form: Sale of the goods manufactured; sale of the goods traded and sale or supply of the services. The form does not even indicate elsewhere how the turnover was achieved.


While the Minister then wriggled out by offering lame excuses, he would have some explaining to do about the latest revelation: His nephew Dr R Sridhar, who happens to be a deputy director in the Ministry of Environment & Forests, is also a director with significant stakes in a private limited company. He was selected for the Government post during Raja’s tenure as the Environment & Forests Minister.

Just like his uncle, Dr Sridhar also flouted the service rules when he failed to inform the Government before joining its service that he was a director with 15 per cent stakes in Kovai Shelters Promotors (Private) Limited. Incidentally, he continues to be a director with the Coimbatore-based real estate firm, established in January 2007 and headed by the Minister’s associate from his Peramballur constituency, Dr C Krishnamoorthy.

Not just that, Section 13 of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules bars a Government servant from having any interest in any private business or company. But, sources said, Sridhar never informed the Government of his being on the board of the private company.


March: Finance Ministry values spectrum at Rs 31,453 crore; estimates loss to exchequer at around Rs 22,500 crore.


Questions that need answers

* Why did the government adopt the first come-first served approach in the allotment of 2G spectrum?

* What is the precise ‘benefit’ the common man Union Telecom Minister A Raja claims has received by the first come-first served system?

* Was an independent study done that showed the advantages of the first come-first served approach to the consumer?

* What other options did the government consider for the allotment of spectrum before finalising the first come-first served system?

* What were the government criteria for consideration of offers companies made for securing the spectrum?

* Was the first come-first served approach initially applicable to existing telecom operators and later extended to new players as well?

* Why is it that a large number of firms that applied for the spectrum were from the real estate sector?

* Is it a mere coincidence that the two companies — Swan and Unitech — that have been allotted the spectrum, are both real estate players?

* Is it just a chance that a couple of companies that Raja’s close family members are involved in, also happen to be real estate firms?

* Why did Raja fail to not only inform the Prime Minister about his family members’ business deals but also file an affidavit of ‘non-conflict of interest’ between his duties as Union Minister and his family’s business deals?

* If Raja’s wife MA Parameswari was a director (Legal) on the Board of Greenhouse Promoters (P) Ltd without having any financial stake in the company — as claimed in writing by the company — was her role then in an honorary capacity? If so, what was the reason for such consideration?

Zero to Rs 755 crore in 1 year!

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