Month: November 2010

Nira Radia Tapes

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?

Afghan War

Americans are unable to win Afghan War. They can not win Afghan War. It is because American money is financing America’s enemies.

America gives money to Pakistan to fight Taliban. Pakistan finances Afghan Taliban who fight Americans. Sometimes Pakistanis directly attack Americans. During one such attack on a helicopter Americans fired back. Three Pakistani soldiers died. Pakistan closed its borders to NATO convoys. NATO tankers went up in smoke. Whether they were blown up by Afghan Taliban, Pakistani army or ISI is immaterial. All are on the same side.

America gives money to certain leaders for safe passage of its convoys. Those leaders give money to Afghan Taliban. Afghan Taliban collects money from employees who are paid by Americans. It is American money that is used against America.

America wants to end war and talk to “moderate” Taliban. Someone claims to be a Taliban leader. He meets some people and walks away with money before Americans discover he is an impostor.

Nothing is achieved by Afghan War. Afghans don’t want Americans or their NATO allies. They take money from whoever gives. America or Iran, it does not make a difference.

Al Qaeda and its associates have shifted to Yemen and other countries. Pakistan fights Pakistani Taliban.

There is no freedom of religion in Afghanistan. If any Muslim gives up Islam he can be put to death. In one case one person who became Christian was sentenced to death. He was allowed to leave Afghanistan on the ground that he was mentally unsound.

The earlier America gets ends Afghan the better it is for them. Afghan Taliban will not get American money and many people will desert it.

Three Events

Three recent events in India have significance.

First was Colors challenging I&B Ministry and going to court. I&B Ministry had asked Imagine and Colours to shift their 9.00 p.m. programmes to a time slot between 11.00 p.m. and 5.00 a.m. Imagine obliged. Colors went to court. It got a stay order.

Second was Jaganmohan Reddy’s revolt against Sonia Gandhi. He called, through a TV programme, Manmohan Singh a rubber stamp and Sonia Gandhi’s leadership a failure.

Third was B. S. Yeddyurappa’s defiance of BJP central leadership. No chief minister of any national party had done that and survived as chief minister.

These three events show challenge to central leadership, whether of government or party. TV channels had submitted to the I&B Ministry. Colors has set a precedent. I&B Ministry acts arbitrarily based on the complaints it receives. A programme that is regressive and glorifies something illegal is allowed to continue because there are no complaints. A programme is in trouble when some people find it indecent and complain. I&B Ministry did not act against Balika Vadhu which glorified child marriage which is illegal because the serial was popular with some sections and there were no complaints. Indecency is subjective. Some find a programme indecent, others not. Some programmes claim to be reality TV but how much reality is there in those programmes is questionable. There are many channels. People who do not like a programme do not have to watch it.

In a parliamentary democracy it is for MLAs to decide who should be the chief minister. People sitting in Delhi deciding who should be chief minister of a state is not democracy. Many times MLAs go through the motions of electing chief minister. Sometimes they pass resolutions authorising the party president to select the chief minister. In some cases the person selected is not MLA or MLC.

Jaganmohan wanted to be chief minister of Andhra Pradesh after his father’s death. Many Congress MPs, MLAs and other members wanted him to be the chief minister. Sonia Gandhi chose K. Rosaiah. At first it appeared it was for a short time. When he continued Jaganmohan and supporters created trouble. Jaganmohan defied party leaders. Attacking Sonia Gandhi should have resulted in expulsion. Instead of expelling Jaganmohan, Congress leadership asked Rosaiah to quit.

Yeddyurappa had trouble from within and outside BJP. He survived. BJP and independent MLAs who withdrew support were disqualified. When central leaders wanted him to quit he went on a show of strength. BJP had to say Yeddyurappa will continue as CM.

Interestingly, 24/11/2010 was a day of twist. Reporters were waiting for the announcement that Yeddyurappa will resign. Instead came the unexpected announcement of Rosaiah’s resignation. By night Kiran Kumar Reddy was selected as chief minister as Andhra Pradesh.