MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2011
Emails point finger at possible Maxis-Maran nexus – Hindustan Times
Manoj Gairola, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 31, 2011
First Published: 23:48 IST(31/7/2011)
Last Updated: 02:15 IST(1/8/2011)
Emails point finger at possible Maxis-Maran nexus
Email exchanges between the original promoter of Aircel, chairman of Maxis and managing director of Standard Chartered Bank raise questions about a possible nexus between Maxis and former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran in the spectrum scam.
During talks for the sale of Aircel by its original promoter C Sivasankaran to T Ananda Krishnan-promoted Maxis, the latter offered to take the ‘responsibility’ to obtain approvals for pending licences and spectrum.
For 20 months, Aircel could not get telecom ministry nod. In an offer made in November 2005, Maxis also took responsibility of obtaining investment approvals from the Centre.
The offer came a few months after an earlier proposal by Aircel to sell 49% stake to Hutchison in 2004 was denied telecom department nod.
“Approvals for investment, (is the) responsibility of buyer (Maxis); approvals for pending licences made by AL (Aircel Ltd), ACL (Aircel Communications Limited) or DWL (Dishnet Wireless Limited), (will be the) joint responsibility of buyer and seller,” Maxis director Ralph Marshall wrote to Sivasankaran in a November 16, 2005 email.
All the three firms – ACL, AL and DWL – were owned by Sivasankaran. Two days later, Standard Chartered Bank (the banker to the deal) MD Prahalad Shantigram underlined the same points in an email to Sivasankaran, a copy of which was marked to Marshall.
“The buyer (Maxis) will be responsible for applying for investment approvals. The buyer (Maxis) and Aircel Tele Ventures Limited (ATVL), would be jointly responsible for obtaining approvals for pending applications of licences and spectrum,” Shantigram wrote in his email.
This, experts said, raises questions about a possible nexus between Maran and Maxis as no buyer takes responsibility of obtaining approvals for pending licences and spectrum. Maxis owner Krishnan is a close friend and business associate of the Maran family.
“I have not seen such a deal in which the buyer is taking responsibility for getting approvals for pending licences, spectrum and investment,” said an official of legal firm.
Following the $1.08 billion (then worth Rs 4,813 crore) sale of the firm from Sivasankaran to Krishnan in March 2006, Aircel got all the pending licences within seven months.
Permission from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board came in less than two months of applying. So did the approval form the telecom department.
Further, Aircel’s application for licences in seven circles and spectrum that was pending with the ministry for more than 20 months was cleared in seven months, in November 2006.
“We will not comment on this matter,” Shantigram said in an emailed response to a query HT had sent seeking his comments.
Krishnan and Maran did not respond to repeated emails.
On February 14, HT first reported how Astro, a Maxis group company, got the Cabinet’s nod to invest Rs 675 crore in Sun Direct TV.
MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2011
PM knew all about the 2G allocation: Arun Jaitley. PC responds referring to saffron terror.
BJP attacks PM, Chidambaram over 2G scam
Updated Aug 01, 2011 at 04:21pm IST
New Delhi: Seeking to corner the Government over the 2G scam, BJP on Monday moved a notice for immediate discussion in the Rajya Sabha contending that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram were “equal party” to the decision to allocate spectrum.
BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said the party will press for adjournment of Question Hour on Tuesday as the House was adjourned following uproar.
“We wanted to press for urgent discussion on the statement issued by the PMO yesterday on the eve of Parliament session distancing himself (the Prime Minister) from anything or a role in the 2G Spectrum allotment and subsequent scam.
“But evidences in documents and circumstantial evidences and his duty as Prime Minister he and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram are equal party to the decision,” Javadekar told reporters outside Parliament.
The BJP Rajya Sabha MP said, “Now everybody wants to distance themselves away from this decision.”
He said the party wanted a discussion and “that is why we moved the notice for immediate discussion by cancelling the Question Hour. But somehow, today the House is now adjourned till tomorrow. So the matter will come up tomorrow.”
The PMO on Sunday issued a statement rejecting suggestions that the Prime Minister had “looked the other way” on the issue of spectrum allocation and insisted that communication sent to the Department of Telecom in no way
related either issues relating to manner of grant of licence or charges for spectrum up to the threshold level”.
BJP spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay criticised the PMO statement on the 2G allocation and said the guilty in the UPA Government will be exposed.
He took on the Prime Minister on his statement that the opposition had too many skeletons in its cupboard.
Vijay was seen holding a banner outside Parliament House that read “A Government of skeletons will not be spared.”
“It is a promise to the people of India,” he said.
Sushma targets PM
Intesifying its attack on the Prime Minister, the BJP demanded a clarification on his role in the 2G scam, saying he has vitiated the atmosphere by his comments.
“The PM has vitiated the atmosphere by making comments on the Opposition,” said Sushma Swaraj.
Sushma Swaraj said that the PM’s comment that the Opposition has many skeleton in its cupboard was ‘unprovoked’ and ‘ill-advised’.
The BJP also said that it wants a vote under rule 184 on price rise and corruption.
“We wanted a discussion under rule 184 on inflation and corruption. We wanted the house to run,” she said.
Party leader Arun Jaitley has said that the PM was aware of every detail on spectrum allocation but he’s sidetracking the issue now.
“PM is faced with several questions on the 2G probe. He seems not to be in a position to answer these questions and is sidetracking the issue,” said Jaitley.
“Few years back, the PM justified A Raja. PM was aware of every detail. He was involved in macro-management of spectrum,” he said.
“Why did he change his stand on spectrum allocation. PM and Chidambaram will have to answer this question,” said Jaitley.
(With additional information from PTI)
BJP steps up attack on PM
1 Aug 2011, 1729 hrs IST, AGENCIES
Stung by his “skeletons in cupboard” remark, the BJP today (August 1) stepped up attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the 2G issue alleging that he was aware of the minutest of details in the matter and will have to answer Opposition charges in Parliament. The BJP announced that it has decided to give notices for discussion on issues of price rise, Mumbai blasts and corruption in both Houses of Parliament under a rule that entails voting.
“The Prime Minister was involved in micromanagement of telecom policies. He was hands on as far as telecom policies are concerned,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley told reporters. Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said, “Tomorrow we want to discuss price rise in the Lok Sabha”, noting that party MP Yashwant Sinha, NDA convenor and JD(U) President Sharad Yadav and leaders of other Opposition parties would give notices for discussion.
Irked by Singh’s “Opposition also has many skeletons in its cupboard” remark, Swaraj said it was “unprovoked and ill-advised” and accused the Prime Minister of vitiating the political atmosphere ahead of the Monsoon Session. “The Prime Minister is faced with several questions because of the recent disclosures on the allocation of 2G spectrum…. He is not in a position to answer any of them. Instead of answering any questions he is attacking the
Opposition,” Jaitley said.
Contending that Singh was in the know of the minutest details on 2G allocation, he said the Prime Minister cannot keep an “arm’s length distance” from his own government. “The Prime Minister has changed his stand several times on the 2G scandal. From an initial support to his Minister A Raja, whom he defended as following a well established policy,” Jaitley said.
Singh then pleaded ignorance about telecom matters and informed Parliament that he had trusted the judgement of his Ministers and when Raja and the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram came with an agreed proposal, he unsuspectingly accepted the same, Jaitley said. “Yesterday, the PMO has sought to explain Singh’s Secretary’s noting on the file, which indicated that an indifferent Prime Minister had chosen to look the other way and wanted to maintain an ‘arms length distance’ from what his government was doing,” he said.
“The PMO now rejects the ‘arms length distance’ theory and instead wants to give the impression that the Prime Minister was ‘hands on’ when it came to the allotment of spectrum,” he said. Jaitley claimed that Raja had kept the Prime Minister informed through at least nine letters wherein he had brought to Singh’s notice that the allocation of spectrum was not by auction and that in 2008 spectrum was being allotted at 2001 prices.
Raja had also informed the Prime Minister that he had changed the basis of ‘First cum First Serve’ policy which would no longer depend on the date of application but from the date of payment of entry fee, the BJP leader said. “These inconsistent positions adopted by the Prime Minister make his position far worse,” Jaitley said, adding that Singh has to answer a lot many questions in Parliament.
BJP’s charges will be fielded in Parliament, says Chidambaram
PTI / Monday, August 1, 2011 18:03 IST
Home Minister P Chidambaram today addressed his monthly press meet in Delhi saying that the charges BJP has levelled against the government will be answered in the Parliament.
“BJP must be having some reasons to target PM and others. Their (BJP) step up in attack running parallel to pace of investigations in some terror cases,” said Chidambaram.
New Delhi, August 01, 2011
First Published: 15:44 IST(1/8/2011)
Last Updated: 16:22 IST(1/8/2011)
PM knew all about the 2G allocation: Arun Jaitley
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Monday said that Manmohan Singh knew every detail about the 2G allocation. The BJP also charged the PM with involvement in micro-management of the spectrum.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it wanted an urgent discussion in parliament on the role of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister P Chidambaram on the 2G spectrum scam.
Manmohan Singh and then finance minister Chidambaram were “an equal party” in the corruption scam, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters earlier.
The party has moved a notice for discussion on the issue in the Rajya Sabha. “We want an urgent discussion on the statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday (Sunday) distancing the Prime Minister from the 2G spectrum scam,” Javadekar said.
“He and then finance minister P Chidambaram are an equal party in the decision,” he said. The Rajya Sabha member added that they would press for a discussion in the House on Tuesday.
A BJP leader said the two leaders were key targets of the party and it wanted action against them.
“Till September 8, we will keep demanding the resignation of Prime Minister and home minister,” a BJP leader said.
The Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday strongly rebutted allegations in a leading publication that Manmohan Singh had “looked the other way” despite being in the knowledge of irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum licences.