The Open Magazine produced by the RP Goenka (RPG) group

Earlier this week, Telecom Minister A Raja of the DMK was forced to resign after pressure mounted on the government over irregularities in the allotment of the 2G spectrum. But this decision to sacrifice an individual in no way changes the system that Raja embodies. Evidence filed on the 15th of November in the Supreme Court seems to shed some light on the networks of lobbyists and power brokers that actually dictate how this country is run. While Raja is gone, these networks survive, shaping and influencing our lives in ways we cannot imagine. Thanks to a fortuitous set of circumstances, the transcripts that follow shed some light on one such network of power. The phone lines of the head of Vaishnavi Communication, Niira Radia, were twice placed under surveillance by the Income Tax Department (based on a tip-off by the Central Board of Direct Taxes) for a few months in 2008 and 2009. Niira Radia is a woman of formidable networking and PR skills, so much so that she represents both the Tata and the Mukesh Ambani group. Some of these recorded phone conversations are now available with Open; they were placed before the Supreme Court this week by petitioners Centre for Public Interest Litigation, represented by senior counsel Prashant Bhushan. He had moved the Supreme Court with a plea that the 2G spectrum investigation that involves Raja should be monitored by the Court in view of the mounting evidence. In a rejoinder in the case, the petitioners submitted, “These conversations were given by the Directorate of Income Tax (Investigations) to the CBI more than a year back. A copy of the taped conversations of Ms Radia with Respondent No. 5 (A. Raja), other politicians, Ratan Tata, other corporates, senior journalists and certain middlemen in a CD are annexed as Annexure P35… Some of the transcripts of the conversations which relate to the lobbying for making Respondent No. 5 as Telecom Minister are annexed as Annexure P36.’’ These recordings, which appear to be only a small part of the recordings made available by the IT department to the CBI, were made in the period of surveillance from 11 May 2009 to 11 July 2009. We are in no position to endorse the contents of the recordings, but as the material is now in the public domain, we can now place them on record. What follows is just a small part of the information contained in the recordings submitted to the court. The conversations presented below focus on two important events: 1) the aftermath of the Bombay High Court judgment of 15 June 2009 on the dispute between brothers Anil Ambani and Mukesh Ambani over the allotment of gas; 2) efforts by Niira Radia to mediate an understanding between the DMK and the Congress between 20 May 2009 and 24 May 2009 at the time of the Cabinet formation of UPA-II. For a period of time, with direct communication breaking down between the DMK and the Congress, a section of the DMK (Raja and DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s daughter, Kanimozhi) was in constant touch with Radia on what was going on and how the Congress needed to react. In turn, Radia relied on a number of people to pass information on to the Congress and back to the DMK. In a way, these were the people who eventually ensured Raja was given the telecom portfolio. The transcripts that follow are from Niira Radia’s conversations with highly influential people. Going by the evidence of the phone taps, these include journalists Vir Sanghvi and Barkha Dutt, and Ranjan Bhattacharya (foster son-in-law of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee), who seem to have played

out the roles of mediators between the Congress and Radia, who was in turn speaking to Raja and Kanimozhi. According to these tapes, Vir Sanghvi seems to have relied heavily on his discussions with Radia to write his column on the gas judgment. The transcripts that appear here do not suggest any direct role for the person Radia is in conversation with, rather they reflect the power and the ability she commands to influence events. +++

“What kind of story do you want? Because this will go as Counterpoint, so it will be like most-most read, but it can’t seem too slanted, yet it is an ideal opportunity to get all the points across”

“Oh God. So now what? What should I tell them? Tell me what should I tell them?”

‘He (Raja) told me he said he needs help in the media. So I promised him I’ll help him. I’m helping him Ratan wherever I can but the thing is that every time you try and help him, he goes and makes stupid statements, you know.

“Hmm …tell Sunil Mittal, you have to work along with Raja for another five years”

“Yes, yes. That I know. I’m just saying be careful, because he’s trying to get somebody from the Congress (to) say things against Raja to dad”

“I haven’t even gotten up, I cannot put pen to paper… Otherwise, I am there and you want me to speak to anyone, not that you don’t know anyone.” +++

»Ahmed Patel: Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary »M Karunanidhi: Tamil Nadu chief minister, often referred to as “the Leader” or “Leader” in the recorded conversations »Ghulam Nabi Azad: former J&K chief minister and currently the Union Health minister. Azad is the Congress party’s general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu affairs »M K Azhagiri: (pronounced Aragiri): Karunanidhi’s elder son and since last year, the union minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers »M K Stalin: Karunanidhi’s younger son and deputy in the Tamil Nadu government

»Dayanidhi Maran: The former Union Communications and IT minister. He is also Karunanidhi’s grandnephew and was removed as minister in UPA-I after Dinakaran, the Tamil paper his brother Kalanithi owns, published a survey saying people in the state would prefer Stalin rather than Azhagiri to succeed Karunanidhi. Violence followed »T R Baalu: Union minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways during the UPA’s first term »Dayalu Ammal: Karunanidhi’s second wife and Azhagiri and Stalin’s mother »Rajathi Ammal: Karunanidhi’s third wife and Kanimozhi’s mother »Amar Singh: Former Samajwadi Party General Secretary and a crony of Anil Ambani

During the standoff between the Congress and the DMK during the formation of the UPA-II Cabinet, Radia also approached Ranjan Bhattacharya, foster son-in-law of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who says that he has ‘a great line’ to senior Congressman Ghulam Nabi Azad
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RANJAN: Oh okay, so let me understand what you are saying, the family guys are okay to get MoS [minister of State], more or less. RADIA: Both the… RANJAN: Provided, provided this Maran boy does not get cabinet, right? RADIA: Correct, correct. RANJAN: And they are best, there are people outside the family and outside the Congress who are pushing for Maran, right? RADIA: And Sunil Mittal’s name is one of them. RANJAN: Listen I, I mean talking to Sunil is no point because obviously he has got this thing. Between you and me, I have a great line to Ghulam Nabi, for whatever he counts. RADIA: I have been sending him a message since morning, I told Mukesh also to speak to him and tell him to speak to Kani [Kanimozhi], because Kani will take him directly to her father. They really spoiled it for themselves because they could have got away with two cabinet berths. RANJAN: Ab unke teen dene padenge [Now they will have to give three]. RADIA: Ab teen dene padenge [Now they will have to give three]. Yeh Baalu ko bhi drop karwa sakte thhe kyunki unhe keh sakte thhe theek hai [They could even have got Baalu dropped], now they have to go through the whole process of three. They will have to be… again this whole argument that will happen, ke teen mein kaun include ho [that who will be included among the three]. Raja include hoga, Alagiri include hoga, Maran ko include karenge, toh baki tumhare Tamil leaders jo iss baari elections jeet ke aayenge woh kahenge hamara kya hoga [Raju will be included, Alagiri will be included, if Maran is included, then other Tamil leaders who have been elected will ask what about us].

RANJAN: I mean exactly aur yeh toh beech mein bhag gaya thha [and he had run away in the middle]. RADIA: Maran was the big challenge, and not because I do not like the guy, but genuinely that was a big problem. Maran kept on saying that both Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel have said to him that he, they want him to be in the Cabinet and that he is the only who is an acceptable face. RANJAN: I do not think. How can a Congress guy, I mean if somebody had told me PM has said it or Sonia said it... How can a Ghulam Nabi or Ahmed Patel insist on [it]? It is like saying aapke ghar mein main tai karun [in your house, I will decide]. RADIA: Unhone insist nahin kiya hai, unhone kaha hai humko Congress ko kya acceptable hai woh hai [They did not insist, they said what is acceptable to the Congress is acceptable] Dayanidhi Maran, so Karunanidhi got awfully confused. The second thing that came up with Congress… said well but Karunanidhi took Maran with him to the UPA meeting, that is because Kani had disappeared, visited somewhere else, and he does not consider woh toh Chennai mein kissi ko bhi apne saath le jaata hai [in Chennai he takes anyone along with him]. RANJAN: Exactly, aisa kya hai, usse koi angrezi, ungrezi samajhne waala bhi chahiye [it is no big deal, he needs someone to understand English]. RADIA: Toh usko isliye le ke gaya thha kyunki Baalu nahin thha [He took him because Baalu was not available]. Kani was not available. Well, he had not, and no one person has been appointed to negotiate, Maran is not the point person to negotiate. RANJAN: Achcha aisa hai, yeh toh abhi jaa raha hai apni swearing-in pe, meri abhi kisi se baat hui toh Ghulam, GNA, is being sworn in, naa [It is like this, he is going for his swearing-in, I just spoke to someone, Ghulam, GNA is being sworn in, no]. RADIA: What is he getting? RANJAN: Bhai, they are not admitting it, mil toh raha hai aur usko liya bhi iss liye jaa raha hai [he is getting something, and is being taken for this reason], he is getting Parliamentary Affairs basically. Being a senior guy, he will be basically Parliamentary Affairs Minister… only has job for three months, nau mahine kya karega [what will he do for nine months?]. So he is lobbying for something, but abhi tak inhone tai toh nahin kiya [they have not decided yet]. RADIA: Tell them to give him aviation, Praful ko bahar rakho [keep Praful out]. RANJAN: Nahin, Praful ne toh raat ko itna drama kiya; apparently, they toh at midnight jaa ke Praful ko aviation bola hai, par Praful ki aaj swearing-in nahin hai [No, Praful created so much drama that at midnight they agreed on aviation for him but he is not being sworn in today]. RADIA: Yeah, I know that. RANJAN: Inki sabki Tuesday ki hai. RADIA: MoS hai. RANJAN: MoS hai, independent.

RANJAN: Aur mujhko Ramesh Sharma called up bahut achcha hai hamare Anand Sharma ho rahein hain, my information is Anand Sharma nahin hain [and Romesh Sharma called me up to say it is good our Anand Sharma is being sworn in but my information is he is not]. RADIA: Anand Sharma hai isme [is in it]. RANJAN: Nahin hai, yeh sab media ne… [No, no this is all the media]. RADIA: Mujhe Mukesh ne bola [I was told by Mukesh]. RANJAN: Chalo dekhte hain, mereko nahin lagta hai [We’ll see, it doesn’t seem so to me]. RADIA: Elevated to Cabinet. RANJAN: Nahin, Cabinet, par abhi aaj uska abhi media chala raha hai at least teen ghante pehle tak na usko chithhi aai thhi, naa Mukul Wasnik ko chithhi aai thhi [No, Cabinet, now the media is running it, but till three hours ago neither he nor Mukul Wasnik had got a letter]. RADIA: Achcha [okay]. RANJAN: But I don’t know. RADIA: … [inaudible]. RANJAN: So is Mukesh happy? RADIA: Very happy. RANJAN: (Laughs) You know what he told me. RADIA: What? RANJAN: He tells me, he says, you know, he is in his usual style, kya kyo, I told him ‘Mera chhodo, kya kyo, aapko kya hai [Forget me and all this, this and that, what about you]? RADIA: Hmm RANJAN: He says ‘Sir thheek hai’, main bola ki [okay, and I said], ‘Mukesh, once in a while show some bloody emotion,’ I said, ‘Aapka toh sab kaam ho gaya [all your work has been done].’ RADIA: Hmm. RANJAN: Motu nahin aaya, yeh nahin hua, toh kehta [Fatso did not make it, it didn’t happen, so he replied] ‘Haan yaar, you know Ranjan, you are right, ab toh Congress apni dukaan hai’ [Yes, you are right, now the Congress is our shop]. RADIA: (Laughs) Why has Bhardwaj not come in? RANJAN: Who? RADIA: Bhardwaj? RANJAN: Who is not coming, sorry? RADIA: Bhardwaj, Bhardwaj

RANJAN: I cannot understand, sorry. RADIA: Bhardwaj, law minister. RANJAN: Bharadwaj. Oh yeah, he has done such a lot of kabada [junk], and especially in those two cases now where CBI then botched it up in both the DA ke assets. These are all under law ministries instructions, so they are pretty pissed off with him. I think they are also now getting in the core guys and then the youngsters, but now I wonder who will get law; will Kapil get it? RADIA: I wonder, I wonder, maybe Kapil only. RANJAN: Um, hmm? RADIA: Maybe. RANJAN: But lawyer toh wohi hai par [he himself is]. RADIA: Oh yes. No, Ranjan, when you speak to Ghulam, you should tell him that they really messed it up, haan? RANJAN: No, so now basically you want me to convey ki aap Kanimozhi ke through jaa ke buddhe ko seedha milo, yai hai na. [So basically you want me to convey that you go through Kanimozhi directly to meet the old man]. RADIA: Agar tum log jo list tumhe bheji thhi uspe agar Baalu or Maran ko mana kar dete toh tumhara problem solve ho jata [If you guys had refused Baalu and Maran on the list you had been sent, your problem would have been solved]. RANJAN: Bhai, ab toh woh nahin hua toh ab kya karna hai [That didn’t happen so what do we do now]? RADIA: Abhi unko Kanimozhi ke paas they have to call her and go directly and meet Karunanidhi. They have to relay two things, they do not want to give infrastructure to Baalu or Maran. RADIA: They have no issue where Raja is concerned, kyunki unhe pata hi hai [because they know] even if they have an issue, the old man is going to bring Raja; he is very clear about that. So don’t antagonise him, because he has got Dalit as now they will have to give Alagiri one, Raja one and one maybe they will give to another leader from Tamil Nadu, or they will, just so that they keep this whole controversy out, they will give it to Baalu only, and then drop Maran altogether and give Kani an independent charge. RANJAN: So Alagiri independent charge or Cabinet, they are okay with it. RADIA: Alagiri in Cabinet because teen ho gaya toh Alagiri ko dena hi padega RANJAN: Okay, but this will happen only late, it will only happen late night. RADIA: Yeah, but if they keep Maran out, maybe they will be able to still get away with two. RANJAN: Oh, okay. RADIA: Which will then make this guy come out quite well by Karunanidhi, by saying, ‘Forget about what the channels are saying about me, or Jayalalitha is saying, both my children are taking MoS independent and I am bringing Baalu and Raja to be the cabinet ministers, they are not my family.’

RANJAN: Okay, now listen, I mean GNA channel is there, if I send word straight to SG, is that better? RADIA: SG is kaun? RANJAN: (Laughs) SG is SG boss. RADIA: Oh, beg your pardon, sorry I didn’t get, haan ya, ya, bhejwa doh [yes, have it sent]. RANJAN: Because that then I can achieve in the morning. I am meeting somebody. RADIA: Par tum isko GNA ko bhi bol doh [you tell this to GNA as well], he is handling Tamil Nadu. RANJAN: I know, theek hai [Okay]. RADIA: Tell him they are being misled by this guy Maran. RANJAN: Okay.

Just a casual chat between Niira RADIA and Suhel Seth, spanning topics as diverse as Ratan Tata, Sunil Bharti Mittal, the Ambani brothers and a dog named Google. It’s a long chat, especially given that Seth was apparently suffering from a toothache.
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SUHEL: Hello. RADIA: Hi! You are really down huh? SUHEL: I am miserable, you cannot imagine. RADIA: My God! You are sounding awful. SUHEL: How is your tooth? RADIA: My tooth, the swelling has gone down. A little pain, but I will be okay, but I am on medication. …. SUHEL: But tell me, what happened? Wasn’t there some court case today? RADIA: It has got listed for the 20th. SUHEL: Oh, so that is it, 25th of July. RADIA: 20th, 20th, 20th of July. So we will have another grind for another week and listen to all this, nonsense they will put out. SUHEL: It is just ridiculous. RADIA: Yeah. …. SUHEL: But I tell you it is so sad.

RADIA: Toh Suhail kya karoge. Batao na kucch karo [So Suhai, what will you do. Please tell me, do something]. SUHEL: Mein to abhi ja hi raha hun [I am just about to leave] one minute, my dog is also going berserk. (Shouts) Google, sit down… RADIA: I love that name Google. SUHEL: Ha, because he can find anything that none of us can. Obviously, because he has hidden it… What I do is, let us see, I will be honest with you. I haven’t even gotten up, I cannot put pen to paper. Otherwise, in any case I am there and you want me to speak to anyone, not that you don’t know anyone. …. RADIA: No, but what I thought was if you write… that would be so good. But you’ll talk from there or are you on a pucca [full] holiday? SUHEL: Actually I am on a pucca holiday, you know why? Because every bloody time I go there is some CII nonsense, there is some other nonsense. Every time I say, ‘Mein to phone hi leke nahi ja raha [I am just not going to take the mobile phone along].’ RADIA: I am trying to get a break, it is just crazy. SUHEL: Huh? But when are you going to take a break. RADIA: I do not know. I was hoping to do it last week, but it did not happen. So maybe after the 20th I will take off a week or something. SUHEL: Where? In Europe? RADIA: Yeah, Europe, yeah. I wanted to also go to Italy. SUHEL: If you are in London, then just SMS me. I am back in London on the 24th. RADIA: Yeah, I should be. No, then I would go to for that Michael Jackson’s concert. SUHEL: Arre [hey], you serious? RADIA: The last concert I was supposed to go. SUHEL: Oh God! RADIA: Ya, well that is gone so I cannot go. And so I already got some of my friends to arrange it for us. SUHEL: Oh God! RADIA: But anyways, now we cannot go. Also, I know he is not there. We will do something else. I do not know, now with this matter coming up on the 20th, when I can travel. A lot of things going on; even on the Tata side there is so much going on. So I need to get away for a week… SUHEL: But the Tatas thankfully are really under control on the media at least huh? RADIA: The media is under control but there are a lot of other stuff that they are handling at the policy level.

SUHEL: Correct, correct, but I am saying thank God at least at the media level, there is no, nothing, it’s all good on the contrary. RADIA: Ya, ya, it is all under control, but thank God thank God! Can you imagine if it were both (laughs)… SUHEL : I swear man, it could have been unbelievable. …. SUHEL: One thing only between the two of us… If the older fellow has so much of an influence, how come the younger brother is able to do so much? RADIA: Ya, last time hua tha na [remember what happened the last time] Amar Singh ka nuclear deal ke baad [after Amar Singh’s nuclear deal]… It was limited to the period of three to four months… when they gave support for the nuclear deal. So it was only limited in that period. And after that Amar Singh made sure that he did what he could… and even all ED inquiries against Anil Ambani have started again. SUHEL: Thank God! RADIA: He has borrowed 10 billion dollars in two years. SUHEL: But wasn’t there something that apparently he had taken money against some foreign holding or some rubbish like that. RADIA: Basically, he has played according to the sort of figures that have [been] brought to us. He has already played around [Rs] 40 thousand crores in the market and lost it. So he has to pay back and his balance sheet is showing a debt of [Rs] 75 thousand crores. And unless he can bring in equity, which his brother won’t allow him to bring in because he has got the ROFR (right of first refusal)… he can’t do anything. So he can only fight us in the court and through media, whatever he wants. So he is in a tight corner. SUHEL: My God, yaar. RADIA: And this gas thing was nothing else… He is basically saying give me money. SUHEL: But the older fellow should not succumb. RADIA: Nothing at all, he is very sure. SUHEL: They should really nail him. RADIA: He is going to nail him now because he had enough of him. SUHEL: And plus he is no one’s friend. RADIA: Ya, he is no one’s friend. You know, Suhail, all industry is on one side and Anil is on one. SUHEL: Ya, I was speaking at a function on June 30, I think at the HSBC thing, and we were together sitting at the same table. He was bitching… (inaudible). RADIA: Yeah, he is back tomorrow in Delhi. SUHEL: Who?

RADIA: Sunil, no? SUHEL: Oh Sunil, ok I don’t know. RADIA: He was also saying that he had enough of him. So everyone is on one side including the Tatas. Because Tata is also battling this issue out. And Anil is on one side. So maybe we should all be just together and put this misery to an end. SUHEL: Misery! I cannot even laugh! RADIA: He is a misery, isn’t he? SUHEL: He is a pain in the ass, yaar. RADIA: I know. SUHEL: If it weren’t for him, you would be on your holiday now. RADIA: Isn’t it just my God! Chal [come on] I wouldn’t be talking to you otherwise. SUHEL: Oh God! RADIA: That is why you better get better soon. SUHEL: I will. Are you in Delhi? RADIA: I am in Delhi, yeah. SUHEL: Oh, I guess I will give you a buzz tomorrow and let us be all, you know, hook for a drink.

The ‘he’ appears to be Dayanidhi Maran, who, along with TR Baalu, seems to be having trouble finding infrastructure-related portfolios in UPA II. Here, Niira Radia conveys that information to Kanimozhi
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KANI: Hello. RADIA: Kani, apparently they relayed to your father yesterday. KANI: Mm-hmm. RADIA: That they do not want to give any infrastructure portfolio to [TR] Balu or Maran. KANI: Yeah… who told it? RADIA: No, no. He was told apparently very, very clearly… KANI: No, he was not... That is the problem. Who came and told him?

RADIA: They came in or, you know, told him or they must have spoken to him and Prime Minister spoke to him. KANI: No. Prime Minister did not. I was the one who was talking with him. I was on the phone and… Prime Minister, said a few words, that’s all. And see, Prime Minister can’t talk on a phone to dad and convey obviously… Prime Minister is also, you know, very soft spoken and dad can’t hear that clearly also. RADIA: Mm-hmm. KANI: And the conversation was not so long that they could have conveyed all that. RADIA: Mm-hmm. KANI: They might have told somebody else that. You don’t know whether that person has conveyed it only na... RADIA: … Okay. Let me find out who they conveyed it to. My God, there is so many people working on the thing, it’s unbelievable… I’m going to just tell them again, yeah. I’ll call you back then. KANI: And see, one more thing is that one of them can call; Ghulam can call me and tell me. RADIA: That’s right. KANI: And I can go and tell dad, but somebody has to come and say yes they’ve said it. So otherwise it would reflect very badly on me. RADIA: Right. Right. Okay. Okay. Listen, I’m meeting your mom [Rajathi Ammal—Karunanidhi’s companion] at 12:30 hopefully. KANI: Okay. I’m here, I’m around. RADIA: Okay. KANI: You please don’t tell this to mom, she will mess it up and go and tell some rubbish. RADIA: No, no, no, no. KANI: …Ask Ghulam to call me and talk to me. I’ll be here around, you know. RADIA: Okay. Okay. +++ As portfolios start being allotted, the DMK appears to be suffering a bout of infighting. Radia and Kanimozhi discuss the prospect of Maran playing negotiator, but drop the idea
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KANI: Hello. RADIA: Kani, one feedback that’s coming back from Congress is that, that you’ve not even declared who your official negotiator is. Five, five people are negotiating at the same time. If your dad also appoint(s) one person who is going to negotiate what everybody has done, then the problem gets solved.

KANI: Hey Niira, what can I do Niira? I really can’t do anything about it. RADIA: You can’t tell them to appoint the official negotiator? KANI: You know OK, we’ll have to say it’s Dayanidhi Maran. RADIA: Well, I don’t think he will. Do you think he will say that? KANI: He will… RADIA: Well, then you might as well not have an official negotiator… KANI: See that is a problem… RADIA: The meeting is, the meeting is still going on. So, it’s, you know, when it’s over I’ll call you. KANI: See, that is the only big problem, no. None of us want to push for it. If he’s going to become anyway. RADIA: Yeah. KANI: I mean, I can just completely, you see, I’m perfectly all right but if dad is going to say he is [too]. But then it become(s) such a self-serving thing, no. RADIA: Is he staying back for the swearing-in? KANI: No. What happened is, he [Maran] was supposed to leave with dad. Once he knew that I’m taking a later flight, he’s changed his flight to a later one. RADIA: Good God. So, he is also not going for the swearing-in? KANI: No, no. He is not going. RADIA: Mm-hmm. KANI: And then because I just want to stay back for the [inaudible] and take a later flight, he also wants to. RADIA: My God. You know, he is watching everything you’re doing… +++ Win some, lose some. Kanimozhi becomes the DMK negotiator, but Maran still seems to have Karunanidhi’s ear. Radia suggests that Kanimozhi use her influence as Karunanidhi’s daughter to ‘save the party’
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KANI: Hello. RADIA: Hi. Listen, they’re caught up in a meeting, but they are going to speak to you. KANI: Pardon?

RADIA: They are going to speak to you. That message has gone to them. What also I have just mentioned to them is that you’re not, only Raja was supposed to have gone to the swearing-in. KANI: Yeah... Daya [Maran] is going, no? RADIA: Daya is not talking to Ahmed Patel… I don’t know who Daya is talking to. KANI: …Daya is going to the swearing-in, no? RADIA: No, that’s what I’ve heard from Congress, that he [Maran] has given his name, that he is going to the swearing-in… KANI: I don’t know, he is supposed to come back with me... RADIA: Yeah, but your dad should be told, no? KANI: That is what. He will come and give some stupid cock and bull story to him. He will say Ahmed Patel [Rajya Sabha MP, and political secretary to Sonia Gandhi]… called. He said at least you should come, you’re the only representative, that you’re the face of DMK. If you’re not there, it won’t be good. RADIA: If your dad were to say to him that I only authorised Raja to go… KANI: No, dad won’t, no way… RADIA: Yeah, but then your father has to understand it; he’s not understanding, so you have to tell him that. KANI: How do I make him understand? I keep telling, he doesn’t understand. RADIA: Who is going to make him understand? Only you can do that… You’re his daughter, so he can listen to you. You have to use your position, Kani, you have to. If you want to save the party, you’re going to have to use it. KANI: I’ll do my best. RADIA: Yeah, you take care, I’ll call you. KANI: Anyway, I’ll be leaving to the airport at 4 o’clock. RADIA: Yeah, that doesn’t matter… they’ll call you in Chennai, but they’ll know that they have to speak to you. KANI: Then, I’ll be reaching Chennai around 7:30 [inaudible]. RADIA: Then, when they call you, you just tell them, you please come to Chennai if you want to talk, whatever you want to talk come… +++

The Congress seems to cede the Telecom portfolio to the DMK. Here, Kanimozhi tells Radia to ensure that somebody from the Congress should speak favourably about A Raja to Karunanidhi
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KANI: Hello RADIA: It’s not true Kani. So why should we tell him, there’s no need? KANI: No, no, I will just make sure because he is trying to spread the thing that… RADIA: No, no, no. Prime Minister has already clarified that… we’re still in the middle of discussing… KANI: … They’ve already told us they’ll give us telecom; now it shouldn’t be given to him [Maran] because he is going around planting the stories… RADIA: Yes, I know that and then I spoke to Raja. I spoke to Chennai also. I got an input as to what has happened. I went back and told the channels that there’s no deal that has been closed… Janardan Dwivedi was the one who made the statement that the deal has been closed with the DMK; there is no need for us to travel to Chennai. Then the channels asked the Prime Minister. KANI: Yea, yea. That I know. I’m just saying be careful, because he’s trying to get somebody from the Congress [to] say things against Raja to dad. RADIA: Nobody said… the Prime Minister has not made a statement. KANI: Not the Prime Minister. When they come to meet dad… RADIA: Agreed. But Kani, the Prime Minister has just made a statement that I have no problem with Raja and Baalu; they’re my esteemed colleagues… KANI: He can make a statement, but whoever is going to come and talk to dad shouldn’t talk otherwise. Because, see, what people say outside and what actually they mean is very different, and all of us know that in politics… That is, for public appearances we do a lot of things. So I’m just saying make sure that whoever is going to come and talk doesn’t talk against this guy… RADIA: Well, okay. Yea, I spoke to Raja also. KANI: See, Raja is one person who will say… everything is okay. RADIA: Yes, yes, yes. I don’t think Congress is in any mood to discuss what portfolio should be taken; they’re going to leave it to your father… KANI: No, no. I’m saying all that is fine. But they shouldn’t come and say anything because I’m sure they will come and say something against Baalu. RADIA: Yes, Baalu, they are saying. They’re saying against Baalu. KANI: No, but they also want to say, I think, against Raja… Even one line against him will definitely take, move it to this guy. Actually they say that we’re very happy to give it to Raja because he did a good job and things like that. Then… it will work in his favour…

+++ Kanimozhi and Radia discuss how to isolate Dayanidhi Maran, and keep the Telecom portfolio away from him
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KANI: Hello. RADIA: Hi, Kani. KANI: Hi, Niira. RADIA: I spoke to them again whether they would speak to the CM and give him some message, but they haven’t taken a call. I think what is being spread right now is that the infrastructure should not be given to Baalu and Raja, when actually what is being said is that it should not be given to Maran and Baalu. So there is also a view that, he [Maran] hasn’t met Sonia Gandhi, I have confirmed that. KANI: Yeah, even I found out. RADIA: Yeah, he has not met and I believe that he has indicated to somebody that he has met your father separately and had a meeting with him and briefed him on Delhi and your father had told him to quietly have a meeting in Delhi on his own. KANI: No, that’s not true... dad hasn’t said anything. Today dad has been told that nobody who is actually interested in joining the Cabinet should be allowed to negotiate. RADIA: Correct, correct. Absolutely, yeah. KANI: Dad is quite okay with that. RADIA: Yeah, yeah. So I guess that’s the better way to do it, no? KANI: He is just lying… we only asked telecom for Raja. RADIA: Correct, correct. KANI: If they have problems, they wouldn’t have given it back to us. RADIA: They said exactly that… that infrastructure is telecom; we don’t have any problem with it. But what he’s done is he has used that very cleverly by saying infrastructure is not, because Raja and Baalu are not welcome; I’m the only one now who fits for telecom. Because he doesn’t want to go to labour or chemical fertiliser. KANI: He doesn’t want to go because it’s not good for his image… You should tell them also Niira, he is the one who is actually creating half the problem. RADIA: I did that, yeah. This morning, all my messages to everyone went that… he is the only one. And I explained the whole Alagiri aspect, that they have to understand that he is a mass leader. And in any case, in any party, priority would always go to a mass leader.

KANI: Exactly… We have other elections coming… We do not want to antagonise all his followers also. RADIA: Yes, correct… I don’t think they have a problem with him, by the way. They don’t have a problem with Alagiri. Congress has no problem with him. KANI: … But this guy is the one who wants telecom and he is spreading rumours, but I don’t think even the DMK is interested in giving him telecom… +++ A Raja’s ministerial portfolio seems to have been decided, even though the news will formally come out only around 29 May. Kanimozhi now asks Radia about her role in the new government
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KANI: Hello. RADIA: Hi, good morning. KANI: Sorry for I wake you up… I just wanted to know, I mean, what they are planning to give for me? RADIA: Mm-hmm… I told you last night. I called after we spoke and I said that, you know, look at the health option. But give her environment and forest; otherwise if the health is not there, independent charge, consider the aviation one. You know that’s the three I had said… They weren’t sure. KANI: Even tourism is not worth it? RADIA: Tourism independent charge they will not give you, Kani, because Ghulam Nabi Azad has still not [been] given his [portfolio]; he wants something more than, what you call it. He has got only parliamentary affairs, you know. KANI: Okay. RADIA: That’s why. So, I did mention tourism because I don’t know… they will keep it up to Cabinet post… KANI: Okay… I’ve given the list of that... RADIA: What did you give the list on? And what did you tell them? KANI: I just gave environment, health, and tourism and culture also… They said they will check it out. RADIA: Mm-hmm. KANI: Maybe I’ll ask for environment. Environment they won’t give, health they won’t give, you know? RADIA: Health I think, they have already allocated… KANI: Environment they will give, you know? RADIA: Independent charge? Yeah. You gave a list this morning, yeah? KANI: Yeah…

RADIA: You didn’t put Aviation, Kani? KANI: You know, just Aviation… No problem. In this set of conversations, Raja has a message to be relayed to the chief of Bharti Airtel, even as Niira Radia appears to advise him to keep a distance from the chief of Reliance Communications, Anil Ambani, in the apparent interests of policy neutrality in the telecom sector
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RADIA: Hello? RAJA: Raja here. RADIA: Hi! I got a message from Barkha Dutt just now. RAJA: Huh? RADIA: Barkha Dutt RAJA: What does she say? RADIA: She says… that she has been following up the story with Prime Minister’s Office tonight. In fact, she was the one who told me that Sonia Gandhi went there. She says that he [the PM, presumably] has no problem with you, but he has a problem with Baalu. RAJA: But it has to be discussed with Leader. RADIA: Yeah, yeah… he has to discuss with the Leader. He has to tell… RAJA: It will be discussed in the morning… why unnecessarily, Congress… tie-up is going out. RADIA: No, but then the question is about Alagiri, no? RAJA: Huh? RADIA: Alagiri’s people are saying: why is Maran getting Cabinet when he is such a senior leader himself? RAJA: That is different, but all these things must be explored and disclosed. RADIA: That’s right. That’s right. I told her to get Congress… RAJA: At least, one to one, let it be disclosed to Leader. RADIA: One to one? RAJA: One to one. Somebody should give a message, at least in a sealed cover, that we are having serious problems [with] Baalu. RADIA: From Congress, right? RAJA: Yes. RADIA: Okay, I’ll tell her. She is talking to Ahmed Patel, so I will talk to him.

RAJA: Let him call at least over phone: Sir, this is problem… we are having high regard [sic], we are having no problem with Raja, but problem is Baalu. Tell. RADIA: Then how will you resolve the other problem? RAJA: Other problems we will take care of slowly, because now Leader comes down. RADIA: Uh-huh. RAJA: Don’t worry RADIA: Now Leader comes down to three, no? RAJA: Comes down for three… RADIA: Yeah. RAJA: Even you are saying that Maran is not fit for Infrastructure… he is having controversy… [sic] alright, let him be accommodated in the existing ministry… at least we will suggest. RADIA: Maran? RAJA: Hmm… you suggest, you send a message. RADIA: Uh, huh +++ Some talk of Tamil politics and its influence of how political power-sharing is shaping up in New Delhi.
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RAJA: Tell me, Niira. RADIA: The thing is that the Congress has been totally confused as to who they need to speak to. RAJA: Huh? RADIA: Who they need to speak to in the DMK. RAJA: Ah… somebody should fly to Leader. RADIA: No, no… That is why, I am now… they’re going to speak to Kani in a little while, and then Kani is going to take them to Leader directly, and let Kani… RAJA: That is good, that is good. RADIA: Yeah? I have done… just told them that, because they’re completely confused who to talk to. Yeah? RAJA: Let them talk to Kani. RADIA: Yeah, but Kani should also be sensible enough to say that she does not want anything for herself. No? I have told her that…

RAJA: Hmm. RADIA: But you also make sure. RAJA: No problem. RADIA: I told them. I told them that whatever… RAJA: See, tell Kani, let her call Leader---‘This is the problem, shall I bring the people?’ RADIA: Yeah, because what they’re saying is that they will not give Infrastructure to Baalu and Maran. They should say that to Leader directly, no? RAJA: No problem. Look, see… let them go along with Kani, and let them tell that we are having problem with these fellows. RADIA: That’s right. That’s what they have to do… they were confused. What happened is---for the UPA meeting, Maran went along. So they think Maran is the interlocutor, he is the person who’s going to talk, so there is this… RAJA: Not at all. He came for assistance, that’s all RADIA: No, I know, but you see this is a wrong message that has gone out, and they don’t know. +++ A discussion on perceptions of Raja’s capabilities, the DMK patriarch’s senility (as it seems), his son Alagiri’s attitude and other things of mind, and their implications.
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RADIA: Raja, how are you? RAJA: Haan. What she is telling, Kani is telling? RADIA: She’s telling that she’s okay about it. She has no problem… RAJA: Hmm. RADIA: But the only thing is that somebody has to go talk to Alagiri, which you have to do. RAJA: Hmm. RADIA: And tell him how Maran has gone and told… RAJA: Haan, I already spoke with him, I already spoke with him. RADIA: You told him what he has told the Congress leaders in Delhi? RAJA: I know. So who planted in the minds of the Congress saying that Alagiri doesn’t know English. I know. RADIA: No, no, no, no…. not only that. Not only that. That he and Stalin tomorrow will be the only ones left to run the party because the old man is senile and he is not going to be around any longer, and

therefore Congress will be happy doing business with him because it will be him… him eventually, and he controls Stalin. RAJA: Hmm. RADIA: This is what he has said. RAJA: Oh, ho, ho, ho! RADIA: And that Alagiri is criminal… RAJA: Hmm. RADIA: And he has not even studied more than 5th standard. RAJA: Oh! RADIA: That’s the exact thing that he has told. RAJA: Okay, okay. RADIA: You go and tell him this, no? RAJA: No, I shared with Alagiri… Alagiri in turn went to speak with Leader. RADIA: No, but he has also said this---that in Delhi, I am the only one that you have to deal with eventually because, any case, Stalin will remain in the state. RAJA: I know, see, I know what type of propaganda he will manage. +++ In this phone conversation, Raja is keen to know from Niira Radia if his ‘case is clear’. She affirms as much, and advises him on being ‘neutral’.
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RADIA: Hi! RAJA: Hello? RADIA: Hi! RAJA: Tell me. RADIA: Mr Raja? RAJA: Yes? RADIA: Niira RAJA: Tell me, Niira, anything? RADIA: I sent you an SMS. I’ve been speaking to Kani, so I just thought that, basically what they are saying is that you should be there.

RAJA: Haan. RADIA: Leader generally is saying that you should be there, because of the, you know, the Dalit dispensation, all that, you know. The Dravidian, the party, and all that… saying that Leader, if it was left to him, he would have focused on the party first. This is unfortunate that his family is coming in the way and Cho Ramaswamy [senior Tamil journalist] has given a favourable remark that it should be limited to this thing. RAJA: Okay. RADIA: But I’ve been talking to Kani, she spoke to me, she said, ‘No independent.’ They are not giving independent… just now. RAJA: My case is clear, yes? RADIA: Yours is clear, yeah. Your case was cleared last night only. RAJA: Okay. RADIA: No, but what is happening with Daya? RAJA: What? RADIA: Daya? RAJA: Rest of the thing is… Textiles or Fertilisers. RADIA: Not for Daya. RAJA: Either of them. RADIA: But Alagiri or Daya? Only one can come, no? RAJA: No, two. Two can come. RADIA: Both? RAJA: Baalu will be the problem. I hope. RADIA: I think that will be difficult for the Leader to justify three family members. RAJA: That is it, that is… (chuckles) everybody knows. RADIA: No, no, she said that. Kani told me this last night, that’s what the father told her yesterday. RAJA: Oh! RADIA: That for him to justify three family members will become very difficult. He recognises that problem. RAJA: What can you do? We’ll see, let us wait. RADIA: Yeah. I think he will have to relook at that. You’re all meeting him individually now? Or the meeting is still going on? RAJA: Not at all, not at all.

RADIA: Narayanan’s [MK, National Security Advisor at the time] meeting is going on? RAJA: Narayanan’s meeting is over. He has gone to Delhi, with cover. RADIA: He’s gone to? RAJA: He has gone to catch the flight… with cover. RADIA: Narayanan, yeah? RAJA: List, list…with the list, he has gone out. RADIA: He has gone out with the list, no? RAJA: I didn’t know what is inside the cover. RADIA: And Kani? Is with father? RAJA: Maybe yes… maybe she knows. RADIA: I will call her now. And you are not there? RAJA: I am not yet there. RADIA: You’re not there? And Maran? Maran is there, no? RAJA: There, yes. RADIA: Why you didn’t go? RAJA: I didn’t go. RADIA: Huh? RAJA: Alright… why should we go? RADIA: You should be there, no? Raja: No problem… morning I met, and thereafter I came back for another work. RADIA: And Alagiri… he knows what Maran has been saying about him? RAJA: It is known to Alagiri. RADIA: It is, no? RAJA: It is known to Alagiri, but he cannot talk with father… timely [sic] he will speak, only thing is, Maran will start the campaign against me… RADIA: Hmm RAJA: That has to be taken care of. RADIA: You have to fight differently. RAJA: Hmm… he may tell the press Prime Minister is coming again, this and that, spectrum…

RADIA: No, no, we are handling, don’t worry. We have to take so much off, you know, even Congress had to make that statement, no? I spoke to Sunil Mittal, did Chandoliya tell you? RAJA: I didn’t know RADIA: I told him to stop. I told him, it doesn’t help. RAJA: Hmm. Tell Sunil Mittal, you have to work along with Raja for another five years. So, don’t… RADIA: I told him that. I told him that. But then you also have to distance yourself from Anil. You must be neutral. RAJA: Ah, that we can keep. As talks between the DMK and Congress (‘them’) broke down over joining the Government in May 2009, Radia was actively involved in opening channels between the two parties through, among others, television journalist Barkha Dutt
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RADIA: Hi, did I wake you up? BARKHA: No, no, no. I’ve been up, ya, most of the night. The stalemate continues, yaa. RADIA: Yeah. Listen, the thing is that they need to talk to him directly. That is what the problem is. BARKHA: Haan so, apparently PM’s really pissed off that they went public. RADIA: But that’s Baalu’s doing, naa… he was not instructed by Karunanidhi to do that. BARKHA: Oh, he wasn’t? RADIA: This is not. He was told to come away and tell Congress that. BARKHA: And he went public RADIA: Well, the media… media, the media was standing outside. BARKHA: Oh God. So now what? What should I tell them? Tell me what should I tell them? RADIA: I’ll tell you what it is---the problem and I have had a long chat with both his wife and with the daughter right … BARKHA: Haan, haan. RADIA: The problem is if the Congress has a problem with Baalu, if they have no problem with anyone. They need and go talk to Karunanidhi. They have very good relationship with Karunanidhi directly. BARKHA: Correct, haan. RADIA: Because you see, in front of Baalu, in front of Maran, they can’t talk.

BARKHA: Yeah RADIA: So they have to tell him directly, there [are] enough Congress leaders in Tamil Nadu. They need to go in and tell him exactly---the biggest problem is that the following of Alagiri is saying that you cannot give [inaudible] a cabinet [inaudible] and keep Alagiri in the MoS state. BARKHA: That’s right. But will Karuna drop Baalu? RADIA: He… look, if you tell him that Baalu is the only problem. I would imagine, he will drop him. BARKHA: But you see the problem right now is also over the choice of portfolios, naa… RADIA: No. They’ve not said anything. The portfolios have not even got discussed. BARKHA: Congress claims, for whatever it’s worth, that the DMK wanted surface transport, power, IT, telecom, railways and health. … RADIA: You see, you see my honest advice… BARKHA: Yeah. RADIA: that you tell them that they need to tell him directly that we are happy because Kani’s [Kanimozhi, DMK Chief Karunanidhi’s daughter] got no issue being about independent. But Alagiri is now telling her that you cannot take an independent charge if Maran remains cabinet minister. BARKHA: I see. RADIA: And Congress is sending messages through media and through various sources, saying that. And Maran is telling everyone that he is the only acceptable person. BARKHA: Person, yeah, yeah, yeah. That I know. RADIA: But that’s not correct, naa? BARKHA: No, I know. We’ve taken that off. We’ve taken that off. … BARKHA: Also, but, but the Congress needs to tell Karunanidhi that we have not said anything about Maran. BARKHA: Okay. Let me talk to them again. RADIA: Yeah? The choice of candidate we will leave to you. We have some reservation about Baalu. And let them tell the reservation. And we have not said anything about Maran. We are not talking +++

In another telecon, Barkha Dutt offers Niira Radia the assurance that she is on the job as a reliable gobetween
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BARKHA: Haan, Niira? RADIA: Barkha, what I’m told is that the Congress yesterday, apparently, God knows who they are talking to in the DMK. BARKHA: Haan, well must be Maran… RADIA: Relayed---no, they relayed that the infrastructure portfolio should not be given to Maran or Baalu. BARKHA: No, that’s because they want to keep it for themselves. RADIA: No, they wanted to; they didn’t want any infrastructure, that’s what Prime Minister said, so he said that’s why they give him labour, fertiliser, chemical---and telecom, IT, they said for Raja. So what has happened is, is that message not relayed to Karunanidhi? BARKHA: Oh I see! RADIA: They might have told some minion down the line or told Maran who is not relaying the truth. BARKHA: I think they have told Maran. RADIA: Yeah, now what they need to do is, they need to speak to Kani so she can set up the discussion with her father, because even the Prime Minister’s discussion was … she was the one who’s translating, and it was a very brief discussion for two minutes. BARKHA: Okay. RADIA: That we’ll try and work it out, and the let’s not you know take it a hasty easy decision. That’s the type of conversation that happened. BARKHA: No, I’ll set it up as soon as they get out of RCR. RADIA: What she saying is that, you know, that someone senior like Ghulam [Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader]---because he is the one who is authorised to speak. …. BARKHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. RADIA: Right? Was to speak to her then she can tell her father that I have got this message from the Congress. BARKHA: Theek hai, not a problem. That’s not a problem, I’ll talk to Azad---I’ll talk to Azad right after I get out of RCR [Race Course Road, presumably, the PM’s residence]. RADIA: Yeah, and then she said when father lands, I can speak to him. BARKHA: Okay.

+++ The two conversationalists touch base again
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RADIA: They will speak to her? BARKHA: Yeah. RADIA: Who? Ghulam? BARKHA: Ghulam. Yeah. RADIA: You know, the problem is she’s catching a flight at five haan, going back. Dayanidhi Maran is attending the swearing in when only Raja has been authorised to attend, so he’s gone and told his leader that Ahmed Patel has told me especially to attend the swearing in. BARKHA: Ahmed says this is rubbish … RADIA: But I am telling you but this. Karunanidhi’s very confused. BARKHA: No, but why can’t Kani stay also and attend it? RADIA: She doesn’t want to attend no because her father told her to come back. She has to follow what she’s father says, no. Call Ghulam then. BARKHA: Let me call him. RADIA: She’s leaving at five. She’s catching a flight at five. +++ Niira Radia and Barkha Dutt discuss cabinet composition possibilities---with Raja’s inclusion or noninclusion the big question
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BARKHA: No, you see Congress’s condition is Baalu should not get surface transport. Not Baalu, DMK should not get surface transport, beyond individuals right?

RADIA: Correct, correct, and they are not individuals. Let me tell you one thing’s for sure, 3 plus 4 was yesterday; because of Maran, they wanted to make it 4 plus 3. BARKHA: Okay! RADIA: So, now it is back to 3 plus 4 that was already worked on the table? BARKHA: No, so why does this formula not sound right then? RADIA: Because of Alagiri naa, if you make Alagiri… not cabinet. No, he’s not got cabinet.

BARKHA: Oh, Alagiri got what, according to these things? RADIA: You see, according to her, he’s got Health, but he can’t be cabinet. Either Maran is not cabinet, either Raja is not cabinet or Baalu’s not. BARKHA: Alagiri’s got Health and that’s a big compromise by Congress because they said we won’t give them Health. So that’s their face saver. No, but Alagiri, Health can be cabinet? RADIA: Agreed, but then Raja is MoS. BARKHA: Raja is MoS! RADIA: Then is Baalu MoS? BARKHA: Nahin ho sakta. Nahin, nahin, nahin, if Baalu gets the Heavy Industries and Alagiri is in the Fertiliser, according to …. Baalu gets Fertilizer; Alagiri gets this thing, Health. RADIA: Maran gets Telecom and IT. BARKHA: Maran gets Telecom and IT. Raja gets demoted. RADIA: Who gets…? BARKHA: Raja. Nahin hoga? RADIA: I am telling you nahin hai (laughing). Trust me, nahin hai. BARKHA: Achcha, theek hai. +++ In yet another telecon, Barkha Dutt explains her situation to Niira Radia
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BARKHA: You see, what happened was everybody I know in the Congress was at the swearing in, so I haven’t been able to speak with the top guys, and now I just finished and I am going to make my set of calls. RADIA: Kani just landed in Chennai. Just now. I just spoke… BARKHA: Where is Daya? Where is Maran? RADIA: Daya didn’t turn up for the swearing in because he was called back, because he went and told Karunanidhi that I have been asked by Ahmed Patel to come for the swearing in. But the leader said then you join the Congress. BARKHA: (laughs) So now? RADIA: So Raja was the only one who’s authorised to attend which he’s done and Raja’s catching the 8:40 flight...


Group Editor of NDTV, Barkha Dutt, who has been caught lobbying and power broking between the tainted DMK and Congress leaders has gone on the defensive as Outlook, Mid Day and Open Magazine have released transcripts and audio bytes proving the nexus between Niira Radia (also spelt Nira Radia) and top Indian journalists such as Barkha Dutt (NDTV), Vir Sanghvi (Hindustan Times) and Prabhu Chawla (India Today). Barkha Dutt’s response on Twitter barkha dutt – Smear campaign astounding. Onus on Open and Outlook to prove quid-pro quo of any kind, before villifying individuals and their work. Outlook and Open Magazine have provided more proof this case than the NDTV has in some past instances of its “activist” journalism. barkha dutt – Vinod Mehta has been guest on several TV shows hosted by me. Would like him to point out one instance of compromise in coverage. Can he? She’s clearly taking it personally. Outlook has released transcripts. Vinod Mehta’s personal opinion does’t prove anyone’s innocence or guilt. barkha dutt – Amazed Angered and saddened at inability of some to distinguish between gathering info and ridiculous labels like lobbying/powerbroking NDTV on defamatory remarks against Barkha Dutt Updated: November 18, 2010 21:11 IST
In response to the Open Magazine cover story dated 20th November, 2010 NDTV would like to object in the strongest terms to the clear misrepresentation of conversations between Barkha Dutt and Ms. Nira Radia, that took place in May 2009. In the pursuit of news and information, journalists talk to an array of people from all professional backgrounds; this case being an an unfolding political story on cabinet formation, after the general elections. To caricature the professional sourcing of information as "lobbying" is not just baseless, but preposterous. At every stage effective journalism involves engagement with a multitude of characters in the process of gathering news and information. To call this process "lobbying" is a serious and defamatory distortion of journalistic practices.

Ironically, when Barkha Dutt raised this smear campaign with the magazine's editor, Manu Joseph, these are the responses she got. 1. "Dear Barkha; thats not true. I can send a copy of the magazine to you right away or you can check the story on the website. We have carried the Radia transcripts which include some of your conversations with her. In fact there is not much remarkable and you will not be embarrassed by it. There is one bit in the strap where the word "go-between" is used which I dont like myself. I would love to carry your response in the next issue if you would like to send one. My email id is" Once again,when she asked the magazine's Editor why the basic tenets of journalism had not been followed in seeking her response before publishing these accusations, this is the reply she received. 2. "Dear Barkha, In the attachment is the cover story (divided into introduction and the transcripts). We knew we were going ahead with the story only on Monday as Prashant Bhushan had submitted a petition in the Supreme Court on Monday attaching the same recordings that we had. We had to make a decision and we did. I wanted to get your response, but there was a possibility that if the word of the story got out (and, you know very well, it is not an exclusive) some people might do their best to ensure that we didn't carry it. If you would like to respond to the story at any length, please let me know (by Tuesday). Warm regards" The fact that the very editor of the magazine that has published this story accepts the distortion in the story's caption and goes on to say that there is nothing "remarkable" in the content speaks for itself. NDTV believes the magazine should first verify and corroborate facts before participating in a defamatory smear campaign. These are unsubstantiated, baseless and defamatory allegations and we reserve the right to take appropriate action. Narayan Rao Group CEO, and Executive Director, NDTV Read more at:

In a statement issued by NDTV on Open magazine’s cover story, The X-Tapes, which carried, among others, transcripts of conversations between Barkha Dutt and Niira Radia, the television channel included comments by Open’s editor Manu Joseph. What was not mentioned in NDTV’s statement was that Manu Joseph’s comments were extracted from an SMS he had sent to Barkha Dutt as a reply to her message that someone in Open was running a “smear campaign” against her. His message (which begins with, “That’s not true”) is in reply to her accusation. The editor of the magazine firmly stands by the story, and to say that he has admitted to a “distortion in the story’s caption” is a gross distortion in itself. Also, he had used the word “unremarkable” to describe her transcripts, only in the context of Barkha Dutt’s claim that there was a smear campaign against her. The NDTV statement further objects to “the clear misrepresentation of conversations between Barkha Dutt and Ms Niira Radia, that took place in May 2009.” Open maintains that there was no misrepresentation. The conversations were carried as they appeared in the recordings. NDTV does not deny that these conversations had taken place. The NDTV statement goes on to say, “NDTV believes the magazine should first verify and corroborate facts before participating in a defamatory smear campaign. These are unsubstantiated, baseless and defamatory allegations and we reserve the right to take appropriate action.” Open magazine is sure of its content, which is why it decided to run the story. Open is one of the most respected magazines in the country, it has among its staff some of the finest journalists in the country and it has no interest in participating in any smear campaign against a well-known journalist. The cover story is self-evident and anybody who has read it can see very clearly that there have been no “unsubstantiated, baseless or defamatory” allegations. R.Rajmohan, Publisher Open Media Network, New Delhi

On 15 June 2009, the Bombay High Court directed Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) to honour an agreement signed with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL) as part of a family asset division that assured the latter supply of gas from the KG basin at a discount price of $2.34 per unit, a private deal that the Supreme Court later ruled was invalid since the gas was State-owned even though RIL was the gas field’s operator. Here, Niira Radia discusses the implications of the High Court judgment with prominent journalist Vir Sanghvi

D A TE 2 0 J U N E 2 0 0 9 T I M E 1 2 : 0 9 : 5 9

RADIA: Hi VIR: Okay, now I can talk.

RADIA: I just got out of this treadmill. On this battle. I need to, I’m trying to get Mukesh to come out and talk. VIR: Yeah. RADIA: But the thing is this, we have to, if he talks, we have to carry it as is, in the sense that you know he, I think, they’re very conscious of every line and everything that goes out. VIR: Yeah. RADIA: Because it’s a battle. It’s a battle at the end of the day for him, you know. And also, whether we bring it into print. VIR: Right. RADIA: That’s the other issue. I think the… VIR: But see Anil can’t afford to give interviews because he will be asked about Amar Singh, so many things, so that the advantage Mukesh has is that he can talk and there is nothing for him to be embarrassed about. So many skeletons in Anil’s closet that he doesn’t want to clarify. If he comes on, he says, ‘Amar Singh is my close friend,’ he is fucked. If he comes on, he says, ‘I have no relations with Amar Singh,’ Amar Singh will kill him. I mean there are so many awkward things, so Anil has decided to avoid the media. Mukesh doesn’t have that prob•lem. Mukesh can talk straight, can say things. You can rehearse. You can work out a script in advance. You can go exactly according to the script. Anil can’t do any of those things, no? RADIA: Right. But we can do that, no? VIR: Yeah. RADIA:Yeah? VIR: But Mukesh has to be on board. He has to sort of realise. It has to be fully scripted. RADIA: No, that’s what I mean. I think that’s what he’s asking me. VIR: Yes, it has to be fully scripted. RADIA: He is saying is that, ‘Look Niira’, that ‘I don’t want anything extempore.’ VIR: No, it has to be fully scripted. I have to come in and do a run through with him before. RADIA: Yeah, yeah. VIR: We have to rehearse it before the cameras come in. RADIA: Yeah, yeah. VIR: Then it is worth doing. RADIA: Correct, correct. VIR: Otherwise, there is a lot at stake.

RADIA: Yeah. That’s right, that’s the one point. The other thing was that when Rohit on this particular article of [inaudible] because Anil is going all out and we are going to start talking. It is not as if we are not going to start talking. But I think the challenge that I’m facing is that I think we need to set the tone. VIR: Okay. RADIA: How what has happened as far as the order is concerned is completely against national interest. VIR: Okay. RADIA: You know and even if we were to assume that they get gas or they get coal, or they get iron ore or whatever one gets. If you look at how Tatas has always gone into those areas and done something for the people even before they have been able to extract anything out of it. VIR: Right. RADIA: Here, the culture of, you know, if it’s set at a power plant in Shahpur, which Rohit will brief you, or is setting up a power plant in Dadri… One would ask a question, have you actually done anything for those people even though you are taking their land from them? I can say today you know with my hand on my heart whether it is Kalinga Nagar that we are fighting the Maoists or Singur where we fought Mamta, we continue doing work whether our plant came up or not. You know sometimes… VIR: What kind of story do you want? Because this will go as Counterpoint, so it will be like most-most read, but it can’t seem too slanted, yet it is an ideal opportunity to get all the points across. RADIA: But basically, the point is what has happened as far as the High Court is concerned is a very painful thing for the country because what is done is against national interest. VIR: Okay. RADIA: I think that’s the underlying message. VIR: Okay. That message we will do. That allocation of resources which are scarce national resources of a poor country cannot be done in this arbitrary fashion to benefit a few rich people. RADIA: That’s right. VIR: Yeah. That message we will get across, but what other points do we need to make? RADIA: I think we need to say that you know it’s a lesson for the corporate world that, you know, they need to think through whenever they want to look at this, whether they really seriously do give back to society. VIR: So I will link it to the election verdict. The fact that there has been so much Narega, that Sonia has commit•ted to including everybody, that it should be inclusive growth. It shouldn’t just benefit the few fat cats. It shouldn’t be cronyism. It shouldn’t be arbitrary. That’s how the message for this five years of Manmohan Singh should be—that you have to put an end to this kind of allocations of scarce resources on the basis of corruption and arbitrariness at the cost of the country, otherwise the country will not forgive you. RADIA: Yeah, but Vir, you have to keep in mind that he has been given the gas field by the Government to operate. He spent ten billion dollars on it.

VIR: Okay. RADIA: Anil Ambani is getting the benefit without spending a cent on it… VIR: I’ll make those points, no? RADIA: Yeah. VIR: So I’ll make those points. The people, because the system is so corrupt and open to manipulation, by manipulating the system, by not paying anybody you can get hands on resources. Therefore the only way Manmohan Singh hopes to survive is to get a handle on the resources and have some kind of way of allocating them that is transparent, fair and perhaps done by him. RADIA: But there you will be attacking Mukesh only, no. VIR: Why, why, why, explain that. RADIA: You see, because a resource has been allocated to Mukesh in this case. VIR: So, what point do you want me to make? RADIA: The point I’m making is that here, the point is limited to the fact that you cannot have a High Court deciding on this. You cannot have a tribunal deciding on this. VIR: What about ministers? RADIA: Even ministers. VIR: Spectrum and co is ministers, no? RADIA: Yeah, even ministers. You want to really look at, maybe there’s an EGoM [Empowered Group of Ministers] that got set and is looking at the pricing issue, and natural resources should be decided not by any of this arbitrary mechanism. It has to be one for the country. And there should be some sort of a formula that Manmohan Singh has to... VIR: Yeah, that is the message, you know. There should be a formula by which resources will be allocated in a transparent, non-arbitrary sort of way. That has to be a message, no? RADIA: Yeah. And also, you know, going to court. VIR: That the people want resources, they have to be back to society. They have to pay the Government. They have corporate social responsibility. They have to care about the people who are going to be displaced, the people who are going to lose things. You can’t just go ahead and rape the system. RADIA: Yeah. But you want to say that you know, more importantly that here a family MoU has taken precedence over national interest, and what the judge has done… I mean you’ll have to attack the judge here because the judge has, what he’s done, he’s given preference to an MoU. He has held on to the MoU and said, ‘Okay, this had to be implemented.’ But he has forgotten what’s good, that’s why it raises a bigger constitutional issue. VIR: Which is?

RADIA: Which is natural resources is really a constitutional issue. It has to do with the country and the nation. VIR: It’s not between two brothers and their fight. RADIA: It’s not and therefore the judge’s interpretation of an MoU… VIR: Yeah. RADIA: It cannot be the basis of the way how we can proceed on these sorts of issues. I mean, you have to attack the fact that the judge has only gone into the MoU. His entire judgment is on the basis of the MoU. VIR: Yeah. RADIA: And therefore a judgment between two family members cannot be how you decide the future. VIR: Okay. Let this Rohit come, let me explain to him, and I’ll talk to you and tell you what line I’m taking. RADIA: Okay. And you’ll do it for next Sunday, is it? VIR: No, no tomorrow +++ And now, a conversation on an entirely different issue. In May 2009, as coalition talks between the DMK and Congress broke down, Niira Radia was apparently involved quite actively in opening channels between the two parties through, among others, Vir Sanghvi

D A TE 2 2 M A Y 2 0 0 9 T I M E 1 3 : 0 3 : 1 9

VIR: Hi Niira. RADIA: Hi Vir. Where are you, Delhi or… VIR: I’m in Jaipur. Coming back this evening. RADIA: Okay. I just wanted to… I’ve been talking to my Tamil Nadu friends. VIR: Okay. RADIA: I just need to… I don’t know whether you are in the position to get through to anyone at Congress. I just met Kani just now. VIR: Okay. RADIA: And I’ve been, you know, we re-united since yesterday. The problem is… VIR: I was supposed to meet Sonia today, but I’ve been stuck here. So, now it’s becoming tomorrow. I’ve been meeting with Rahul, but tell me?

RADIA: No, I’ll tell you what---they are not understanding that they are actually communicating with the wrong guy. Not because I detached Maran, but actually the father has not nominated Maran to negotiate. Now, you know, it’s like a banana republic where the Cabinet… VIR: Then why Maran became the face? They all hate Maran. RADIA: No. He is not, he is not. I know, no. But the Congress is under the impression. They have already apparently indicated to Maran that the Prime Minister will not give infrastructure berth to DMK, which… but he himself is desperately pushing for an infrastructure berth for himself. VIR: Right. RADIA: But the problem is that there is a leader which is Kani’s brother, which is Alagiri, who’s won that election and he is a mass leader. VIR: Okay. RADIA: Now what has apparently… Maran has gone and indicated to Congress that he will accept a MOS independent, and you leave it with me, everything will be okay. VIR: Okay. RADIA: Which blames Baalu, Raja and Maran Cabinet posts independent to Alagiri and MOS to Kani. VIR: Okay. RADIA: Now, Alagiri is a very, you know, he is, he is a mass leader. He controls half of Tamil Nadu for Karunanidhi’s point of view. VIR: Okay. RADIA: He is far too, too senior for Maran. So, what he has told his father that if you make Maran a Cabinet minister… VIR: Yeah. RADIA: …I’ll not come into the Cabinet. And the father cannot afford to upset him because… VIR: Obviously. RADIA: …simply because of his position. VIR: Yeah. RADIA: Right now, the Congress doesn’t seem to be understanding this. VIR: So, who should they talk to? RADIA: They need to, look, they need to talk directly to Karunanidhi, they need to talk to Kani. VIR: Sonia spoke to him yesterday, you know. RADIA: No, she didn’t speak to him. Only Prime Minister spoke, even that was Kani was translating for him. It was very brief that, you know, let’s try and resolve this issue. There is nothing at all and whatever. They need to get Ghulam Nabi Azad to speak to Kanimozhi.

VIR: Okay. RADIA: Seriously, that’s the only thing that will work and Kani will take them to her father. VIR: I won’t get into Sonia in the short term, let me try and get through to Ahmed. RADIA: No. But they need to speak to Kani [Kanimozhi, DMK Chief M Karunanidhi’s daughter], and Kani will take him to their, her father directly. VIR: Okay. RADIA: He has no problem with three Cabinet berths at all. In fact, it is the Congress that messed it up. VIR: Mm...hmm. RADIA: Had they, had they not kept on insisting and kept on pushing Maran forward… themselves have been pushing Maran forward. They would have left it to Raja and, and Baalu even if they wanted, or Raja and Alagiri and Kani would taken independent, nobody will, it is Congress they started this whole Maran dialogue. VIR: Oh, I have been thinking that DMK nominated Maran. RADIA: No. No. No. No, they did, they’ve sent a list earlier with five portfolios and Maran’s name because father was pushed … so he had to send a list with everybody’s name on it. But he was hoping that Congress would come back and say, ‘Okay, we will accept Raja,’ or ‘We will not,’ or ‘Not Raja, we will give you only three portfolios,’ right? But they have not able to, the communication that’s been happening in Congress with DMK has been completely warped. They are talking to the wrong guys. VIR: Okay. Let me try and get through to Ahmed. RADIA: The, the simplest way is Kani [inaudible; 0:03:24]. VIR: Yeah. RADIA: And Kani [inaudible; 0:03:27] will take them to her father directly. VIR: Okay. RADIA: And they can have this, you know, whatever are the, the concerns, whatever they want to say, let them say in front of Kani. VIR: And he’ll never mind. He will not mind. RADIA: Yeah, they should say, they should say, ‘We don’t want Maran.’ VIR: Okay, done. Let me just try and get through and I’ll let you know soon. RADIA: But the moment you drop Maran, your problem gets resolved because Alagiri has done okay. VIR: Okay. RADIA: Okay. Give him this message. She is right now… VIR: I just…

RADIA: [Inaudible; 0:03:51] She is in her South Avenue residence. VIR: They have a mobile , you know? RADIA: I just met her. VIR: Okay. RADIA: And some Tamil Nadu Congress guys also want just now to meet her. VIR: Okay. RADIA: I don’t think it needs to be done at that level. It needs to be done at, at Ghulam Nabi Azad level or… VIR: Well, I’ll talk with Ahmed. I’m going to talk to him. +++ A follow-up discussion on cabinet berths for the DMK’s leading lights, including of course the Telecom Ministry for A Raja

D A TE 2 3 M A Y 2 0 0 9 T I M E 2 2 : 2 6 : 4 2

VIR: Hello. RADIA: Sorry to disturb you. VIR: Hi, no problem. RADIA: They had a meeting. VIR: Okay. RADIA: MK Narayanan [National Security Advisor at the time] had come. VIR: Okay. RADIA: And as suggested it was Kani only. VIR: Okay. RADIA: And they had a… they are still stuck to their four formula and one independent. VIR: Okay. RADIA: But these people will also think about it and let him know tomorrow morning. He is… VIR: But they will not send him about the family or whatever, right? RADIA: No. He clarified everything that you had told him. VIR: Okay, very good.

RADIA: I think that there was no issue, and there was, and there was lot of relief from this Chief Minister’s side. VIR: Okay. RADIA: And he realised that, you know, this is all being done by… VIR: By Maran. RADIA: …yeah. [inaudible; 0:00:42] But the thing is that it appears that he is still under a lot of pressure to take Maran, you know, so… VIR: Where is this coming from, this pressure? RADIA: It’s coming from Stalin and his sister Sylvie. VIR: Okay. Radia: So, I believe Maran has given about 600 crores to Dayalu, Stalin’s mother. VIR: 600 Crores, okay? RADIA: 600 Crores, is what I’m told. VIR It’s hard to argue with that kind of pressure? RADIA: Isn’t it. So, he is… VIR: Yeah. RADIA: …but no, but he doesn’t know, the father doesn’t, I mean... VIR: Doesn’t realise what? RADIA: Doesn’t realise that. But this is the feedback that Alagiri has got. VIR: Okay. RADIA: And… VIR: So, basically what they want is a little more flexibility and posts right? They want probably more cabinets or something? RADIA: They are saying one more cabinet and Kani was independent charge. VIR: Yeah. RADIA: But if they stick to three and give independent charge, then Kani gets her independent and then Alagiri, Baalu and Raja come in? VIR: That is not so bad, you know. RADIA: Yeah, so I think… VIR: …unless Maran is one of the cabinet.

RADIA: Yeah. But yeah, unless Maran is one of the cabinet. But I don’t think he can give it to three family members. VIR: Yeah. RADIA: That will send a very wrong signal. VIR: That’s right. RADIA: So, the best thing is, you know, if I don’t know whether Narayanan can say that, I mean he can’t say who should be the people. But he could probably go back and say that, you know, Baalu and Raja and Alagiri is the best option and Kani, you know. VIR: And it’s good for the Government also. That doesn’t seem to be giving it to the family. RADIA: Yeah. Yeah but then I don’t know whether he is in the position to take names, you know. VIR: Because Baalu and Raja are saying it is being spread by Maran saying that we don’t, nobody wants them because they are crooks to advance his own career, you know. RADIA: Yeah. Yeah. So, if there was anything that could be said which is, that, that you know, you know, if, if Narayanan was to come back tomorrow and say by looking, I think, we think that may be the three, and we’ll see a little later for the fourth one. But for now let’s just look at Alagiri, Baalu and Raja… VIR: And, and, and see Maran… RADIA: …and we can give independent to Kani. VIR : Yeah. Makes sense. RADIA: And, and that would be a, a good thing for him to say. And they are asking for environment and forest. VIR: See, Narayanan will talk to PM. Then they have to communicate, he won’t talk to the Congress President. Radia: Hmm? VIR: He won’t talk to Congress president. So, somebody … he’s PM’s man, he has gone on behalf of PM. So, they will, PMO will send its feedback to Congress party. So, that stage my friends will get a…. RADIA: So they will in any case speak to Ahmed, you know. VIR: Yeah. Yeah, they will. And nothing will happen without his getting involved. RADIA: Yeah. VIR: So, I’ll speak to him right away and convey this? RADIA: Yeah. But maybe that, you know, he would have to specify then that we are not too comfortable with Maran… VIR: Yeah.

RADIA: …and let it be Baalu and Raja because so much has been said and then it would also, also send a wrong message that if you don’t take Baalu and Raja now. But I don’t know whether they will say that? VIR: I don’t know. Well let’s, let’s. No, harm trying. RADIA: But therefore Kani, is asking for, he is not told Narayanan this, but they’ve suggested a couple of ministries. VIR: Which one? RADIA: But they are saying okay, telecom is going to Raja in any case. VIR: Okay. RADIA: That, the old man is very clear about. VIR: Okay. RADIA: But as far as the other two are concerned, he doesn’t mind. He is not very fussed about chemical, fertilisers and labour. VIR: Okay. RADIA: How funny, he would prefer that she gets independent charge Environment and Forest or something like that. You know, where she can get her teeth in and she is I think, she is very upright with it. So, they shouldn’t have any problem with that, or by the way aviation also. VIR: What about Civil Aviation? RADIA: And Civil Aviation. VIR: It gives her the, it gives her the profile she would need, you know. RADIA: She wants the aviation because, why she says aviation because she can do Chennai airport, Salem and Madurai and all that, you know… VIR: Yeah. RADIA: …it gives her the, the foothold for the political side. VIR: We don’t have anyone there. Let me talk. RADIA: Yeah. And she is intelligent and she will do just, because they are saying Environment and Forest and Aviation for Kani in independent charge. VIR: I’ll pass this on? RADIA: Yeah. Thanks. Thanks to you. VIR: Yeah. RADIA: That was really great, you know, you all, I mean it was exactly as you had said and… VIR : Okay. RADIA: They were very relieved and she was so relieved. So, wants to say thank you to you personally.

VIR: I’ll pass it… RADIA: Let’s hope tomorrow it will---and Alagiri has got all those messages. My person came back and confirmed. VIR: Oh, very good.

My response to the Radia transcripts (NEW)
Posted By: Vir Sanghvi | Posted On: 18 Nov 2010 08:38 PM Several months ago, stories began appearing in a section of the media suggesting that I – along with other journalists – had lobbied on behalf of A. Raja. As I have never met Mr Raja and have attacked his corruption in both print and TV, these assertions struck me as bizarre. The stories were based on tape-recorded conversations that Niira Radia had with innumerable individuals, including several journalists. A magazine has now published what purports to be transcripts of those conversations though it says “We are in no position to endorse the contents of the recordings” which presumably means that it is not guaranteeing their authenticity. While nobody can remember verbatim every conversation that took place 19 months ago, these transcripts do not appear to be entirely accurate. Moreover, there is nothing at all in the transcripts to suggest that I lobbied for Mr Raja. The conversations recorded relate to the phase when there was an impasse between the DMK and the Congress. Ms Radia called several journalists, including me, to ask us to convey a message to any Congress leaders we met in the course of our work. This message was, essentially, that the Congress was communicating with the wrong people in the DMK. While gathering news, journalists talk to a wide variety of sources from all walks of life, especially when a fastmoving story is unfolding. Out of a desire to elicit more information from these sources, we are generally polite. I received many calls from different sources during that period. In no case did I act on those requests as anybody in the government will know. The second conversation relates to the dispute between the Ambani brothers. I had asked Ms Radia to explain the position of her client, Mukesh Ambani. And I also asked Anil Ambani’s side for its views. This was recorded in the piece. I wrote: “My friend, Tony Jesudasan, who represents Anil, took me out to lunch and made out a case for Anil. I was totally convinced till my friend, Niira Radia, who represents Mukesh, gave me the other side which frankly seemed just as convincing to my inexpert ears”. I also wrote, “Why do the Ambanis think that all of us should take sides in their battle? Or that we should care what happens to them?” That still remains my view.

Hindustan Times New Delhi, November 19, 2010 First Published: 16:48 IST(19/11/2010) Last Updated: 16:54 IST(19/11/2010)

Transcripts have been carried in some Indian publications of what are purportedly telephone conversations between, among others, Hindustan Times Advisory Editorial Director Vir Sanghvi, and a lobbyist, Niira Radia. While the authenticity of these transcripts cannot be ascertained, Hindustan Times would like to reiterate its steadfast adherence to a code of ethics of the highest levels and values that involve integrity, credibility and transparency in our constant endeavour to bring news and analysis that is unbiased, balanced and authentic to its readers. As for the alleged involvement of Mr Sanghvi with matters concerning Ms Radia, as the transcripts may imply, we would like to cite Mr Sanghvi's own clarifications on this as posted by him on his personal website, Mr Sanghvi writes a weekly column, titled Counterpoint, in which the views he expresses, like those of our other columnists, are his own.

‘Give Your Story To A Paper Which Will Carry It As A Lead Flyer. Isko CNBC Ko Do.’
M.K. Venu, Senior business journalist

*** M.K. Venu: You saw Rohini’s story. It has come today. Niira Radia: No, I haven’t seen it. I’m going to see it now. I finished at 1.30 in the night. MK: But it’s all tucked away. You’re also keeping Manoj Modi’s timings. 2 o’ clock! NR: It’s tucked away, is it? MK: Yeah, but in ET you can’t miss it. It is the inside page but it’s the top half, the lead story of the page. NR: You know this one, Ganapathy has been chasing me but I don’t want to give it to him. I have a letter from the Andhra chief minister. MK: Hmm. NR: I don’t want to give it to him, I am scared to give it and find the story killed. What do you think I should do? He has given a scathing attack. He has written to the PM.

MK: The Andhra CM. Two years ago, he used to sing Anil Ambani’s tune. It is a very strong letter, yaar. NR: Kya karoon yaar. I don’t want it tucked away. MK: Objective advice. Isko aise akhbar ko do jo isko lead flyer carry kare. Isko CNBC ko do. Then these people will be adequately provoked. If CNBC carries it as a lead 10 times a day, then everyone will start running helter skelter. If I was the editor, Rohini’s story was a clean Page 1, top half, like a lead story. Do you think a letter to the MD is possible? Broadly saying that we congratulate the launch of ET Now and then you can raise this issue that there is this raging controversy that is of national interest and we hope you can take which is, you know, which is in keeping with what Y.S.R. Reddy has written. Aisa karke you should lagao one. NR: How is Prabhakar Sinha in Times? MK: My information is that he and his brother Arun Kumar are retainers on the other side. About Arun Kumar, I am quite sure. He and Sandeep Bamzai used to be so openly partisan. I met Shekhar Bhatia at dinner, he used to be executive editor then, he told Sandeep Bamzai ki kam se kam ek hafta to chhod do. At least three to six months, you don’t plug him. This is what Shekhar Bhatia told him publicly. NR: Yes, I don’t blame him. I met Sukumar and Sanjoy Narayan. MK: That Sanjoy Narayan has an old friendship with that Tony (Jesudasan), na? They have some great common interests. Niira Radia: This guy is not there in the afternoon, Tarun. He’s got to go to Chandigarh. Tarun Das: No, that’s okay, that’s okay. NR: So, he’s saying he can do it on Friday. TD: Sure, Friday’s fine. NR: Are you okay with Friday? TD: Yeah, Friday is fine, I’m here. NR: Okay, I’ll go ahead... TD: I’m here all week now. NR: I’ll go ahead and confirm Friday. If it’s Friday then I’ll probably come along with you. TD: If this thing works out, what will be the deal? NR: The...hmm, er...the land? TD: Yeah. NR: Oh, I’ll, I’ll work it out. You don’t worry about it. TD: Hmm?

NR: I’ll sort it out. We’ll see, no, what we can do. Maybe he can give it at a massive concession. The rest we’ll handle. Don’t worry about it, Tarun. TD: Okay. NR: It’s my responsibility to get you five acres. TD: Okay. *** TD: I’m just driving into Bombay. NR: So, Mukesh is expecting you at 4 o’clock? TD: Yeah. I’m having dinner with Ratan in the evening. NR: Oh, good. You’re going to tell him you met Mukesh? TD: I have to. I would, normally. I’m like that, no. I tell everyone. I don’t have anything to ‘not-to-say’ you know. And, actually the reason I was coming was because of the dinner. NR: Okay, okay good. Good, good, good. Yeah, that’s good. TD: How have you been? What are you doing? NR: No, nothing. I’m trying to look at a few issues. We’re back on fighting with telecom. I met Sunil by the way—last week. TD: One-to-one or with others? NR: No, no, one-to-one. Sunil Mittal. Just to try and get an understanding of where we are and whether we can.... Ratan still doesn’t trust him. Refuses to have anything to do with him in any way at all. But I think he doesn’t realise that this time around we’re going to need each other’s help. TD: Yeah. NR: I can see it. I can see exactly where we’re going to need it. Which is what I told Sunil also, I said, don’t be so arrogant with Raja. TD: Hmm... NR: So, likewise with Ratan, he can’t just, you know, wish Sunil away. He has to give him credit for what he has achieved all these years. TD: So how did you find Sunil? What did you think of him? NR: Good. Good, good. I’m still...there is this trust factor he still has to build, you know. TD: You met him in the office or home or where?

NR: At his house. Yeah. I refused to go to the office. TD: He’s been asking about you. Conversations between Niira Radia and Ratan Tata NR: He said I always thought you were out of bounds. So, I said, no, look, I can’t work for you because you know Ratan has a view. But I think maybe I can help you. There are certain areas where I think we need to come together.... D A TE 7 J U L Y 2 0 0 9 TI M E 2 0 : 2 9 : 0 7 TATA: Hi. RADIA: Hi. You’ve got the media chasing me on Mr Tata being approached for becoming the chairman of the international advisory committee for Air India? TATA: It’s true. Nothing has happened. He did come to see me. RADIA: Praful? TATA: No, no, the current CEO. RADIA: Jhadav, yeah. He’s Praful’s henchman. TATA: Is he? RADIA: Completely. He’s been brought in to safeguard the Boeing deal. TATA: Oh really? RADIA: So they put out a story saying that, you know, they’re trying to build credibility right now. I got a call from Times of India saying that Mr Tata has been approached. I said I have no comment to make. TATA: Yeah, I think that’s what you should keep saying till we hear anything. RADIA: They are going to run the story in any case because Praful has gone on record to say that you’ve been approached. TATA: Let him go on record. RADIA: We’ll just maintain ‘no comment’. TATA: Yeah, yeah. RADIA: Yeah, yeah. I’ll do that. I’ll maintain ‘no comment’. Yeah, I’ll do that. You landed in London? TATA: No I’m sitting on the ground in Tel Aviv. RADIA: Oh gosh! What happened? TATA: The plane is two hours late. We’re all in the plane. RADIA: Oh, dear me. Oh, gosh. Oh dear me. I’m sorry. You should fly in your own plane. .... RADIA: Okay. There’s a programme tomorrow, right?

TATA: But I think that’s in London. RADIA: Oh, it’s in London, okay, okay. RATAN TATA: Yeah. RADIA: Okay, alright. TATA: It’s a bloody black tie affair. RADIA: It’s a black tie affair? Gosh. TATA: You know how much I love those. RADIA: Oh, you should have invited me. I could have worn my black gown. (Both chuckle) TATA: You could have worn your black gown and gone in my place. I hate black tie affairs. RADIA: I never get a chance to wear my black gown, Ratan. TATA: We’ll make some occasion for you in Bombay. RADIA: Yeah, because I have got this Roberto Cavalli gown, which I never get a chance to wear. TATA: It’s a what? RADIA: I have this Roberto Cavalli gown which I never get a chance to… TATA: Is it in Bombay or London? RADIA: No, I’ve got it lying, you know, with me in Delhi, so I can go wherever with it, but I never get a chance to wear it. TATA: Well then, you wear it when you meet Hillary Clinton or or whom could I suggest who would be a befitting person to… RADIA: (laughs) No. I’ll wear it when you next wear a black tie, or… you call me. TATA: Okay. …. RADIA: By the way, AT&T has cancelled their interaction with Anil Ambani. TATA: Oh really? RADIA: What happened, Mukesh sent used his US lawyer to send them a letter saying that we have an ROFR [right of first refusal] in place, and they wrote back saying they were examining this and the matter is too complicated, and they have no intention of going forward. Given that it could just not end anywhere. Thank God for that. So now he is talking about China Power for his power company. Yeah, he has to raise money. TATA: I doubt that China Power would like to go into that transaction because they are so conservative. RADIA: Hmmmm. He’s offering them 10 per cent only. There the ROFR is not going to matter.

TATA: When we offered them something like that, they weren’t at all interested. RADIA: Maybe not. TATA: They wanted control and so on and so forth, right? RADIA: So now… TATA: I can find out but I don’t want to be unduly interested. RADIA: But he’s got now. In the telecom space France Telecom has said no to him. AT&T has said no. MTN has said no. I think is it Telstra? TATA: Of Australia? RADIA: They said no. So there’s nobody unless [and] until he is going to talk to QTel… is in trouble because they are looking at restructuring. TATA: You have talked to Siva? RADIA: Talked to? TATA: Siva. RADIA: Yeah, Siva’s gone to court, you know, and opposed that 25th date. TATA: You told me that. RADIA: Yeah, so now what Raja told me was that he was going to give him licence without spectrum. TATA: (Laughs) RADIA: So they are filing an application. TATA: Go to court again and say that he didn’t get spectrum. ... RADIA: Yes, but there is no spectrum available and that’s what they’ve submitted. I know that unless the court can order release of spectrum from Defence and all of us benefit. It’s not going to happen, you know, until… you know, that’s not going to happen. Yeah, I met Raja today. I went to see him today and he is alright. He is a happy man. The Chief Justice has given his clearance on him and he’s happy. He’s really happy with that. I told him the letter’s coming to you… that KK’s letter, you know. But he couldn’t understand why is it a letter and why can’t I bring the cheque to him. I said ‘I can’t do that because there is a process to it and you have to understand.’ Raja is like, you know, he is always all over the place. TATA: Does he know that the other guy is gunning for him? RADIA: Yeah. He is fully aware. He told me he said he needs help in the media. So I promised him I’ll help him. I’m helping him Ratan wherever I can, but the thing is that every time you try and help him, he goes and makes stupid statements, you know. RATAN TATA: Yeah, yeah.

RADIA: So you don’t know what to do with him, you know. I told him just learn to keep quiet and keep his head down. As far as the media is concerned, he can’t resist talking to the media, and then he just says everything, you know. He is saying. The latest rumour is that he and Kanimozhi are having an affair which is actually not true. TATA: Who? RADIA: His latest thing is that he and Kanimozhi are having an affair. TATA: Whose latest thing? RADIA: The latest rumour in Delhi. TATA: Oh I see. RADIA: That Raja and Kanimozhi are having an affair, which is not true. TATA: Yeah, but spread by who? RADIA: By whom else, Maran, but that’s because Raja, whenever the media comes to meet him or anybody comes to meet him, he keeps on telling them how much of a soft corner he has for Kani, and every time he talks about her, as dark as he is, he still blushes. TATA: (Laughs) RADIA: He gives away the sign that he probably has a crush on her and she has got zero interest in him. Everybody then puts two and two together and gossips. You have this really weird man and he can’t understand why his wife is going to beat him up. TATA: (laughs) RADIA: He’s telling me today, ‘What do I do with all of these people, to all these rumours?’ And I told him, ‘Don’t talk to people about you have this soft corner for Kanimozhi,’ and that ‘You have to protect her.’ And I said to him, ‘You know, you actually blush.’ He said, ‘You can’t make out I am blushing.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry, but look at your eyes.’ Anyway, he can’t hide the fact that he’s got a crush on her. And Kani says to me, ‘God help me Niira, keep me away from this man.’ It is quite funny. On the lighter side of Delhi. But then for the madness that I hate being here. So these are the lighter moments of life. I’m back in Bombay from Friday. TATA: Okay, so we’ll get together. RADIA: Yeah, I’m going to be there the whole of next week. You take care. Are you going off from London tomorrow, then you’re travelling to the US? You’re coming back. Okay, I don’t know why… TATA: Thursday morning. RADIA: Thursday morning. TATA: I’m sorry. I’m leaving Thursday morning and I’ll be back Thursday night. RADIA: Okay, so I’m back in Bombay on Friday. TATA: Okay.

RADIA: Good. I’m thinking delivery of my new Jaguar on Saturday. TATA: Oh, is that so? RADIA: Yes. TATA: Good, good. •
Posted: Fri, Nov 19 2010. 12:15 AM IST

Editor’s note: Why we are quiet on the Open magazine story
Mint’s editor tells readers why we are quiet on the Open magazine story Sukumar Ranganathan
I guess it’s only a matter of time before someone asks me on Twitter why Mint has chosen to stay silent on the transcripts carried in Open magazine that point to the involvement of, among others, Hindustan Times Advisory editorial director Vir Sanghvi (Mint is published by the same company that does HT) and NDTV’s Barkha Dutt in matters concerning lobbyist Niira Radia, former telecom minister A. Raja, the Congress and the DMK, and the fight between the Ambani brothers. Like other editors, I too received some documents (they were left for me in a brown envelope in the reception to the Mint office but I had no doubt where they came from) that carried some of the excerpts published in Open magazine (not all). The reason we didn’t act on them was because we couldn’t authenticate them. Most of the sensational disclosures appeared on pages that were not marked or without a letterhead; these were interspersed with mundane disclosures that appeared on the letterhead of one government department or another. Also Read | Livemint Blogs The mere submission of a more detailed set of transcripts in the court doesn’t, at least to my mind, make the documents any better as “source” for a newspaper article. They could be authentic, but there’s a chance that they could be forged. My reporters and editors had no way of finding out, which (and believe me, we tried) I think is the responsibility of an honest newspaper to do. A few weeks back, we decided not to carry a report by a government agency against an industrialist past his prime simply because it was full of holes — far from damning the subject of the investigation, the report made the agencylook foolish. Still, its appearance in a paper like Mint would have itself bestowed it with some credibility. Earlier this year, we declined to jump on to the IPL scam bandwagon. Other newspapers were attributing sensational disclosures to a “source” report from the IT department. It emerged later that no such report existed. Just as a point of comparison, the New York Times spent three months vetting the Pentagon papers. In our desire to publish only information we can verify, we may miss some stories.

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