New Delhi: Textiles
Minister Dayanidhi Maran Wednesday vehemently denied allegations
of receiving kickbacks for issuing a 2G licence to private a
operator when he was telecom minister 2004-07, even as an
aggressive opposition raised a chorus for his resignation.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the
scam, got into action and said it had begun a preliminary enquiry
and indicated that a case will be registered soon.
"It is totally untrue and malicious," Maran said in a letter
issued here and denied that he was "partial to a particular
company" in granting a licence.
Maran's denial comes in the wake of a report in Tehelka magazine
that claimed that Maran in 2006 deliberately delayed clearing the
licence to certain companies.
The allegations triggered demands by the opposition Bharatiya
Janata Party, AIDMK and the Left for Maran's resignation from
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet.
The DMK leader held the telecom portfolio from May 2004 to May
2007 in the first United Progressive Alliance government.
"As the news items are far from truth, I have already sent
defamation notices to the newspapers and television channels
concerned," Maran said on allegations that his family-owned Sun TV
Network was a beneficiary of pay-offs by a Malaysian company that
benefited from equity sold by mobile service provider Aircel.
Maran is not the only DMK leader facing the heat in the 2G scam.
Former telecom minister A. Raja and DMK chief and former Tamil
Nadu chief minister Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi are in Tihar
jail on corruption charges. A total of 14 people, including
bureaucrats and corporate honchos are in jail in relation with the
2G allocation scam.
In its April 25 supplementary chargesheet, the CBI named Kanimozhi
and Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar as co-conspirators after it
traced an illegal money trail of Rs.214 crore in the scam.
CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra told IANS the agency had started a
preliminary inquiry on the Maran issue. "We are looking into the
matter. Case can be registered only as per procedures. Summoning
will take place after that," she said.
"CBI will file a case against the people involved, including Maran,
in next 15 to 20 days," said a CBI source.
In Chennai, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa said prime
minister should seek Maran's resignation.
"The prime minister should ask for Dayanidhi Maran's resignation
from the cabinet. I am sure the prime minister would have asked.
Maran should resign and face the legal proceedings," Jayalalithaa
The BJP also alleged that Sun TV Network belonging to Maran's
brother Kalanithi Maran was an indirect beneficiary of the
decisions taken by him during his tenure as the telecom minister.
According to BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad, Malaysian
company Maxis Communication bought 74 percent stake in Aircel when
Maran was the telecom minister and the company was later allotted
more circles to operate. Maxis Communication through its
subsidiary Astro invested around Rs.600 crore in Sun DTH belonging
to the Sun TV Network.
The BJP alleged there is a conflict of interest in the decisions
taken by Maran during his tenure as telecom minister and the
subsequent investment in a company owned by his brother.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Prakash Karat also
demanded a "serious investigation" into the matter.
But, in his two-page letter, Maran said : "As the allegations are
getting focused sharply now and some political parties are also
joining them, I would fail in my duty if I do not place the facts
in their right perspective in the public domain."
"I vouch that during my tenure as minister of communication and
IT, I was totally impartial in taking decisions. I have not
favoured any company over others. Neither any applicant company
was followed to jump the queue in the grant of UAS licenses nor
was there any loss to the exchequer," he said in the letter.
"Only companies fulfilling all the required conditions were given
LOIs in their own turn. Even CAG has not mentioned any loss to the
exchequer an account of issue of licenses in my tenure," he added.