On 23/11/2010 I read “Beware the single brush” by Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express. The article had a sentence “Tapes of conversations between journalists and various lobbyists have been put online and some publications have carried stories on these conversations.”
I did not know who were the journalists or lobbyists.
On 26/11/2010 at 9.00 p.m. on NDTV 24×7 there was a clip of Walk the Talk. Shekhar Gupta interviews Ratan Tata who repeatedly uses the phrase banana republic. I did not understand what he meant.
At 10.00 p.m. I switched to Star World to watch Lie to me. It was an old episode. So I switched to NDTV 24×7 hoping to see Left, Right and Centre. There was the clip again.
I switched channels and came across CNN-IBN. I heard the names of Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi. It was Last Word of Karan Thapar. Panellists were Sanjay Baru, N. Ram, Dilip Cherian, and Joseph.
The discussion was about Nira Radia tapes. Telephonic conversations of Nira Radia, a lobbyist, with various journalists, industrialists and others had become public. Outlook and Open had published them.
During discussion the role of Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi was questioned. N. Ram said BBC and Financial Times would have fired journalists for such misconduct.
The TV news channels I watch had not reported about the content of tapes. Journalists usually do not report misdeeds of their own. Outlook and Open took on their own.
When industrialists lobby for someone to be minister and succeed that leaves a question mark on the behaviour of prime minister.
Some weeks back Ratan Tata made a statement that he had refused to pay 15 crore rupees as bribe to get his airline cleared. If he lobbied for a corrupt minister to be in the cabinet and that becomes public knowledge that does not make India a banana republic.
When any channel or newspaper is selective in exposing corruption it becomes partisan. NDTV is said to be pro-UPA. On 24/11/2010 Nidhi Razdan said we will continue to focus on Yeddyurappa. That is good but what about continued focus on corruption in Commonwealth Games?
Barkha Dutt’s reputation is in tatters. Vir Sanghvi had a question mark over him when a taped conversation published in Hindustan Times was said to be fake.
In one conversation someone tells Nira Radia he has arranged Arun Shourie to be replaced by Venkaiah Naidu to speak on budget proposals. Arun Shourie would have spoken against a proposal that favoured Mukesh Ambani. Arun Shourie confirmed a conversation about him. Arun Shourie confirmed a conversation about him. In a party meeting he had spoken against that proposal. He said he was to talk on budget proposals as BJP’s lead speaker and had prepared for a week. The day he was to speak he was told Venkaiah Naidu will speak. He said the voice of the person who spoke to Nira Radia was of N. K. Singh.
Nira Radia tapes can become significant like Watergate tapes which forced Richard Nixon out.
Some questions about Nira Radia tapes.
Income Tax Department tapped Nira Radia conversations. What was the purpose? Who authorised tapping?
If there was no evidence of tax evasion why tapping did not stop?
Why were the tapes handed over to CBI and Enforcement Directorate?
Why is Nira Radia questioned by Enforcement Directorate? What is her crime?
Who leaked the tapes? It is possible that many sections of media knew about the tapes and kept quiet.
It is said 5,831 conversations were recorded, most of them private. They have nothing to do with appointment of ministers, budget proposals and so on. Do people in Income Tax Department have nothing better to do than record private conversations, listen to them and distribute them?
Right to privacy is part of Right to life and liberty. What is the punishment for breach of privacy?
On 29/11/2010 Ratan Tata moved Supreme Court to stop the publication of tapes of his conversations with Nira Radia. Government ordered an investigation by Intelligence Bureau and Central Board of Direct Taxes into the leakage of tapes. Why investigation by two agencies?