All those who are taking keen
interest in anti corruption campaign in India must watch out the
two high profile cases relating to Maran brothers; Kalanithi Maran
and Dayanidhi Maran, sons for late Murosoli Maran, leader of the
DMK party and nephew of DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi.
While Kalanithi Maran runs the Sun TV, one of the largest media
outlets in south India, his younger brother Daynanidhi Maran is
into politics. He stepped into politics following the death of his
father and was Union minister in the successive UPA government.
Daynanidhi Maran who held the telecom portfolio had to resign for
his alleged involvement in 2 G spectrum scam in which his
successor A. Raja, is now behind bars for a considerable period of
Raja, who had succeeded Maran as the Union minister, is said to
have favored Swan Telecom and the latter’s promoters had in turn
given Rs 200 crore to DMK-controlled Kalaignar TV.
The same case has led to the arrest of Ms Kanimozhi, daughter of
DMK patriarch, M Karunandhi, as headed the Kalaignar TV. The case
is sub judice and trial is going on in the court of law.
Coming back to Maran brothers who have amassed huge fortune in
just twenty years, their crime and corruption cases are a
potboiler. The first case pertains to acquiring investments in the
family business using political clout as a telecom minister
Mr. Dayanidhi Maran during his tenure as a minister reportedly
'deliberately delayed' to provide letter of intent to telecom
operator Aircel. In turn, he favored the takeover of the Aircel
Company by the Maxis Communication, a Malaysian firm by clearing
seven license and spectrum deals with the Maxis Communication.
It’s alleged that as a part of the deal, the Maxis Communication
through its sister concern, Astro Network, made an investments of
550 core into Sun TV, owned by the Maran family. A FIR is
registered by the CBI in this case and the matter is sub-judice.
Now its tussle between a business house having political clout and
law enforcement agencies. The arguments and the counter arguments
are being made in the court of law and one has to keep a watch on
this story how it will play itself out.
The second case is much more interesting, where political clout
was used to dupe the government’s exchequer to the tune of crore
of rupees. Lo and behold Mr. Dayanidhi Maran after becoming the
telecom minister, created a ‘virtual’ telephone exchange at his
residence installing 323 residential lines at his home.
These telephone lines were taken in the name of BSNL General
Manager and were connected from the minister’s residence to the
office of Sun TV, owned by his brother Mr. Kalanithi Maran.
The connection was made through a dedicated underground cable for
facilitating SUN TV’s special needs such as video conferencing and
transfer of huge volume of digital data to other ports outside the
In the normal course, such services may have come for a heavy
price, that has to be paid by the consumer to the government owned
service provider, but it was almost free for Sun TV, because the
lines were operated from the residence of the telecom minister.
Again, an FIR is registered in this case and the matter is sub
judice. One has to keep a watch which on this story as arguments
and the counter arguments is being made in the court. The two
cases are well laid out, and it remains to be seen will it result
into conviction of the accused.
There is much to dig into the business deal of the high profile
political business house of South India. One of the most
noticeable development was the acquisition of the Spice Jet,
public carrier by the SUN TV. This happened so after Mr. Dayanidhi
Maran became the telecom minister of India.
The allegation is that the huge money that was made to promote the
idea of the license permit raj, was ploughed into the purchase of
the aviation company and diversifying the business of the media
It’s obvious that the ledger books will tell the story of clean
business operation, but those watching the developments from the
close quarters do not rule out a possible scam.
Then the SUN network off late has also entered into the business
of production and distribution of Tamil films. The business was
run with the help of political clout and it was made a case of
survival of the mightiest and all those into this business before
had to vacate the scene because of such dirty business practices.
After the change of the government in Tamil Nadu, things are now
looking up for better. The new regime has taken cognizance of the
high handedness of the SUN TV, and cases are slapped on
operational head running this business.
This business model of the Sun TV extended to having monopoly over
cable business in Chennai. In order to have the monopoly, the
cable business of the SUN TV used its political clout to subdue
all the competitors.
Previously, the Rahija group controlled a part of the cable
business in Chennai, but it had to give up, because SUN TV used
all foul means, literally fighting a turf war to control this
After having the monopoly the SUN TV cable operator charged very
exorbitant amount of money for airing new TV channels,
discouraging them from doing from doing business.
After the new government has come to power, the situation is now
changing on the cable scene. A It state run cable operation system
is brought in to break the monopolist situation, but its having a
tough time because Sun TV refuses to be part of this cable
This story may remain incomplete without the mention of Kalagnar
TV, that was launched in the wake o of tussle between Maran family
and M. Karunanidhi family.
The tussle broke out on the issue of the prices of the shares of
Sun TV to the Karunanidhi family. The Maran bothers offered a very
low price for the shares to Karunanidhi family who had substantial
stakes in the Sun TV.
This led to the antagonism and a complete breakup between the two
families. This led to the formation of Kalagnar TV, which is owned
Even this was not tolerated by the SUN TV. Mr. Sharat Kumar who
owned Gemini TV, a Tlegue channel, in partnership with SUN TV, was
hired to head the Kalagnar TV, was physically assaulted allegedly
by the Sun TV goons.
A case is registered and is pending the courts and it’s another
story that instead of Maran bothers, Mr. Sharat Kumar is behind
the bars in the 2 G spectrum case.
The other side light into Maran’s tale is the DTH service
operation in India. The TATA sky had already git the license to do
DTH business, but the telecom minister, Mr. Dyanidhi Maran opposed
becoming a TATA’s a player in the DTH business.
A war of words broke out between them and it was reported in the
media. Since, TATA’s had bigger financial clout and all India
operation to run, the ambition of the regional player had to eat a
Even though the acrimony faded into oblivion, it did led to the
formation of another business the SUN DTH.
There is much to dig into the business operations of Maran
brothers as they have many other hidden businesses not known to
the public but it would suffice to say that this is not an
isolated business model in India.
There are many business conglomerates who have charted out similar
course of action to become rich, richer and richest.
For the theoreticians of business practices in India, somewhere,
there are two business models operational in this country.
One is to acquire business interest by fair and foul means and
then acquire political power to protect the business and make it
grow. The other model is first gain political clout and then
become a corporate entity and flourishes under the political
The two models seem to be simultaneously at work in India. This is
reflected in the ever growing number of Crorepati MPs in the
Indian Parliament. A cursory look at their profiles suggests that
either they have taken the political route or the business route
to amass such huge wealth.
Geared by Marxian ideology, to travel the distance in phases to
achieve the goal of a utilitarian state, the politician after
crossing the stage of acquiring political power get into the
domain of building huge economic wealth. Similarly, businessmen
after accumulating substantial wealth, get into the domain of
accruing political clout. In this way they can get away with all
their gory deeds and keep their business operation afloat.
However, the rule of the game is quite different. The businessmen
normally take the protection of the political bosses by funding
them and flourish in their businesses.
The political bosses on the other hand keep away from business
activity because they have easy flow of cash. This arrangement
seems to be working fine but is now becoming a slightly outdated
for business practices in this country.
With change in business practices, the changing character of the
Indian democracy is quite glaring. This development stare us on
our face as we see the other side of India that lives on less than
a dollar a day.
The conclusion drawn out of this discussion is the gap between
rich and poor is becoming unbridgeable in this country.
Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at