Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dayanidhi abused power to get Sun TV a free phone exchang

If you believe that Dayanidhi Maran 
and Sun TV, a company run by his brother Kalanidhi Maran, have no links, here’s the kicker: Dayanidhi gifted the latter a free telephone exchange paid for entirely by the exchequer.
In its 4 June issue, Tehelka magazine published an expose suggesting that Dayanidhi Maran had favoured the Malaysian Maxis Group with telecom licences and spectrum in return for which the Sun TV Group got over Rs 675 crore worth of investments from Maxis in its direct-to-home dish TV venture.
Dayanidhi gifted Kalanidhi a free telephone exchange paid for entirely by the exchequer. Reuters
Maran denied it, saying he was totally impartial, and that he had no stake in his brother’s business. In any case, he was not minister when the Maxis deal took place.
Now, his statement is likely to be challenged. According to an article by S Gurumurthy in The New Indian Express, Dayanidhi, when he was Communications Minister in UPA-1, got a public sector company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), to give his brother’s company 323 telephone lines for free in Chennai.
Gurumurthy, quoting a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report, says that Dayanidhi got “all the 323 home lines listed not in his name but in the name of the Chief General Manager, BSNL, Chennai. These lines virtually constituted a telephone exchange in the minister’s home. It was exclusively used for his family business by laying a 3.4-km-long secret cable along public roads to connect the lines to the business premises (of Sun TV). This had caused huge loss to BSNL….The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), which probed the fraud, wrote to the Secretary, Telecom, on 9 September 2007 recommending action against Maran for the fraud.”
Now why would a Maran, with crores at stake in Sun TV, want to save money on a few phone lines?
Well, it wasn’t just that. Says the Express report: “They were no ordinary telephone lines, but costly ISDN lines, which could carry tons and tons of TV news and programmes faster than satellites to any part of the world. These lines, the CBI says in its report, are ‘normally used by medium to large commercial enterprises to meet special needs such as video conferencing, transmission of huge volume of digital data of audio and video’ — precisely the facility that Sun TV would need for its telecasting operations. For this, the Sun TV would have paid huge cost. But it got it all free, at government’s cost.”
Gurumurthy quotes the CBI as saying that the Maran home exchange was “programmed in such a way that no one other than the authorised BSNL staff were aware of the existence of such an exchange created for his [minister’s] exclusive use”….By linking the minister’s home and Sun TV office by the stealthy cables, “it would appear as if the lines were used in the residence of the former minister, but actually the cables laid facilitated Sun TV network to utilise the services of BSNL provided at his residence”.
This clearly gives the lie to Dayanidhi’s claims on Wednesday that he had no links to his brother’s Sun TV business, which was the focus of the Tehelka investigation. The market certainly believes a nexus exists, for shares of Sun Network and SpiceJet, owned by Kalanidhi, have crashed.
With so much skullduggery going on with the Marans and then Andimuthu Raja, one thing is certain: the top bosses of the UPA, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, would certainly have been privy to  CBI’s investigations or heard about it from their officials. But they did pretty little to stop the loot.

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