Everything You Need To Know About the 2G Tape Scandal

November 23, 2010 1:53 pm by

A Raja.

If you haven’t heard of the tape scandal supposedly incriminating top journalists like Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi, you’d be forgiven. Other than Open magazine and Outlook, the Indian mainstream media (by which we mean the newspapers) have predictably remained schtum. If you couldn’t be bothered to trawl through the articles and recordings, here’s a quick breakdown of the controversy. That said, we encourage you to listen to the audio clips, which have been posted on both Outlook and Open magazine’s websites and judge for yourself.

What’s the deal with the tapes?
In short, the tapes in question, which contain several tapped phone conversations authorised by the government during 2009, supposedly reveal Dutt, Sanghvi, and a host of other senior journalists from outlets like India Today and The Economic Times, and industrialists like Ratan Tata talking to political lobbyist and PR maven Niira Radia (whose clients include the Ambanis and Tata Sons) about issues like the Telecom ministry appointment, the Ambani gas feud, and the division of the power sector in Maharashtra.

That’s it?
Not quite. Parts of the conversations, recorded between Dutt and Radia, and Sanghvi and Radia, apparently contain damning evidence that politicians, fixers, and journalists are uncomfortably hand-in-glove when it comes to acting as mediators and swaying national decisions, like for instance, trying to get A. Raja the Telecom job. We say apparently because while Dutt and Sanghvi have come out in defence of their conversations, saying it was part of their job and that they never followed through with what they are heard promising, there’s enough ambiguity in certain statements to let it fall both ways.

So what’s on the tapes?
There are several taped conversations (more than 104 according to Outlook), though two sets in particular seem to be in the eye of the storm. In the first set recorded in May 2009, Dutt, Sanghvi, other senior journalists and industralists talk to Radia about the breakdown in communication between the DMK (the coalition party of now resigned Telecom minister A. Raja) and the Congress about assigning ministries, particularly the much coveted Telecom portfolio to Raja. At one point in a recording between just Dutt and Radia, you can hear Dutt offering to set up meetings between two politicians (you can listen to the taping on Outlook‘s site). Though its not clear whether Dutt followed up (you can read her defence here), you can hear her asking Radia about conveying a message to Congress: “So now what, what should I tell them. Tell me what should I tell them?”

In the second set of recordings between Sanghvi and Radia in June, 2009, the conversation centres around the Ambani brother feud over the pricing of gas from the Krishna-Godavari basin that was decided by the Supreme Court in May. Sanghvi allegedly offers to coach Mukesh Ambani for an upcoming interview with him, and also to spin his Hindustan Times column “Counterpoint” in his favour, which he ended up not doing eventually. According to The Wall Street Journal he tells Radia: “What kind of story do you want?” and “That message we will get across, but what other points do we need to make?” and that his column “can’t seem too slanted.” In another conversation recorded in May 2009, Sanghvi, like Dutt, supposedly offers to act as a mediator between the DMK and Congress by talking to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Sanghvi, who posted his defence on his website, has flatly denied that he lobbied for Raja to get the Telecom ministry or that he spun a column in favour of Mukesh Ambani.

So now what?
Now that they’ve both posted defences, it’s unlikely that Dutt or Sanghvi will resign or that Indian media will be affected much. The tapes, however, will be used in a petition seeking to prosecute Raja in the 2G scam. In other words, all in a day’s work for the world’s largest and most corrupt democracy.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments (2)

  1. n.krishna |

    Tata is a bribing corporate thief like A Raja and steals national wealth. This thief Parsi’s Tata Tele should be boycotted. Tata Teleservices spend around Rs 1000 crore and sold 27.31% to Japan’s NTT Docomo for Rs 12,924 crore, its valuation jumped to Rs 47,323 crore. Tatas forcibly acquired land in 1919 that is the oldest in India and is making profit out of our natural resources like the present day illegal mining. In June 1919 British and the Tatas drove away villagers from Mulshi near Pune, Maharashtra with little except the clothes they wore and made dam, affecting 54 villages. Tata family was smuggling opium to China for East India Company. Tata helped, invasion of Ethiopia by the British army. Its Nagpur Empress Mills is in honour of Queen Victoria. David Good, of US govt who prevented Anderson’s extradition, heads, Tata in US. Ratan Tata promote Dow Chemical and wants to pay for toxic clean-up. Tata is a heavy polluter in Sukhinda, Patancheru, Kutch. . bit.ly/cc5in0,

  2. n.krishna |

    Nira Radia lobbied for the return of Raja as the Telecom Minister as per her tapped conversations. Nira Radia has made all efforts to scuttle Dayanidhi Maran getting the Telecom portfolio, as he was considered to be opposed to Tata and Ambani. Sonia and Rahul is in the Radia loop as all of the scam remained undisclosed and Manmohan Singh refused to come out with any details about the case filed by the CBI. Nira Radia, is influential with Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Mittal etc and Radia dictates media policy of Corporates and thus we have not seen anything in the media for the past 2 years relating to the telecom scam which is the biggest robbery by corporates like Tata and others and the media houses are afraid to take cudgels against Radia and Raja. bit.ly/e55miB, bit.ly/eelbyg, bit.ly/fRiJIj, bit.ly/haiB3I, bit.ly/haiB3I, bit.ly/e18taa, bit.ly/hOkAeQ, bit.ly/e506Qn, bit.ly/gYiImQ, bit.ly/hTtcUA, bit.ly/fs4a6m, bit.ly/hv3ziw, bit.ly/hv3ziw, bit.ly/hode1L,