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POSTED BY Buzz ON Oct 25, 2013 AT 06:45 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 25, 2013 06:45 IST

"Coal mafia is not outside the government. It exists within the Ministry of Coal," wrote P.C. Parakh, the then coal secretary to the then cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi on March 22, 2005.

Parakh who is now an accused in the CBI's investigation into the coal block allocation scam went on to add: "There is large-scale black marketing and generation of black money through patronage of coal mafia in the current system of marketing of coal" 

Parakh has been accused of favouring industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla's firm Hindalco in an allocation which the CBI states was cleared by the "competent authority", in what is being seen as a possible reference to the prime minister.

Parakh's explosive letter was an angry response to the five-page show-cause notice served by the cabinet secretary on February 12, 2005, based on the then tainted coal minister Shibu Soren's letter of February 7, 2005 to the prime minister, charging his ministry's secretary of being an "NDA man" who was "disobedient" and "hiding information on the coal mafia."

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Oct 25, 2013 AT 06:45 IST, Edited At: Oct 25, 2013 06:45 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON May 01, 2013 AT 08:20 IST ,  Edited At: May 01, 2013 13:54 IST

For those who came in late: the latest controversy involving Dr Manmohan Singh and his UPA government has its genesis in a March 2012 Draft CAG report on 'allocating coal blocks in an inefficient manner' during the period 2004–2009, when the coal ministry was directly under the charge of prime minister. Team Anna picked up the issue, and the otherwise reticent PM went to the extent of saying: "If it turns out that there is even an element of truth in these charges, I will give up my public career and [the] country can give me any punishment." 

As the controversy spread, after names of the recipients of coal block allocations were revealed, the case was handed over for investigation to the CBI. The CBI draft status report, submitted to the SC on March 8, pointed out that allocations were done without verifying the credentials of companies which allegedly misrepresented facts about themselves. The government vehemently refuted these findings of "arbitrary allotments without scrutiny" and claimed that the "CBI is not the final word on this"

A bench of Justices R M Lodha, J Chelameswar and Madan B Lokur, in an unprecedented move then asked CBI director Ranjit Sinha to file an affidavit affirming that its report "was vetted by him and nothing contained therein has been shared with the political executive". Attorney General (AG) Goolam Vahanvati, when asked, told the court he had not gone through the report. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Harin Rawal went on to make an unequivocal statement that the status report had not been shared with anybody from the political executive. 

After much speculation and many denials the CBI director in his affidavit to the SC admitted that the draft of the status report had indeed been "shared with Law Minister as desired by him prior to its submission before the Supreme Court. Besides the political executive, it was also shared with one joint secretary level officer each of Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Coal as desired by them."

As demands rose for the law minister's resignation, the PM stepped in to aggressively defend him: "There is no question of the Law Minister resigning. The matter is now in the court and it is sub-judice. It is not proper for me to do anything. But there is no question of the Law Minister resigning."

Meanwhile, the ASG blamed the AG,  corroborated the CBI claim, and said that he "felt embarrassed and was forced to take a stand in the court consistent" with that of the AG because he had already stated that the "contents of the status report were not known" to him.

And now comes the stinging indictment from the SC, asking the CBI, inter alia, "Can you tell us, is the Law Minister entitled to call for such reports? Joint Secretary Coal, Joint Secretary PMO -- can they also look into the status report? Why were details of changes, and under whose instance these changes were made, not disclosed in CBI chief's affidavit?"

The questions for the PM are piling up. One doesn't have to research too hard to name many such times in the past when the stand taken up by him does not quite square with his reputation for honesty. Here's a quick list from memory:

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON May 01, 2013 AT 08:20 IST, Edited At: May 01, 2013 13:54 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 08, 2013 AT 09:51 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 08, 2013 09:51 IST

The Hindu, in investigative collaboration with WikiLeaks, has accessed a new set of U.S. diplomatic communications, The ‘Kissinger Cables, from an earlier but highly turbulent period in India's political history: the early-to mid-1970s that comprise more than 1.7 million U.S. diplomatic records for the period 1973 to 1976, relating to a period when Henry Kissinger was the U.S Secretary of State in the Nixon and Ford Administrations. The first major revelation from these set of cables, as revealed by the Hindu is that much before he joined politics, 'Mr Clean" Rajiv Gandhi "may have been the “main Indian negotiator” for a massive aircraft deal for which his “family” connections were seen as valuable for the Swedish company Saab-Scania, when it was trying to sell its Viggen fighter aircraft to India in the 1970s".

An October 21, 1975 cable from the New Delhi U.S. Embassy (1975NEWDE14031_b, confidential) says:

1. THE SWEDES HERE ARE ONCE AGAIN OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THEIR CHANCES OF SELLING THE VIGGEN TO THE INDIAN AIR FORCE. THE SAAB SCANIA SALES MANAGER AND THE CHIEF TECHNICAL ADVISOR, THE FORMER ACTING COMMANDER OF THE SWEDISH AIR FORCE, RETURNED TO NEW DELHI TEN DAYS AGO FOR CONFERENCES WITH THE INDIANS. THE TECHNICAL ADVISOR IS STILL HERE AND WILL REMAIN AS LONG AS NECESSARY TO HANDLE QUESTIONS FROM THE NEW INDIAN DEFENSE MINISTER AND NEW IAF CHIEF OF THE STAFF, BOTH OF WHOM ACCORDING TO OUR SWEDISH COLLEAGUE, REQUIRE TIME TO BRIEF THEMSELVES ON THE COMPETING FIGHTERS. CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 NEW DE 01909 061554Z

2. THE SWEDES HERE EXPECT THAT THE IAF WILL SEND A TEST PILOT TO SWEDEN TO FLY THE VIGGEN SINCE THE CURRENT MODELS COMING OFF THE LINE ARE AIRWORTHY. HE TELLS US THE INDIANS HAVE ACCEPTED THE EXPLANATION FOR THE WING STRUCTURAL DEFECT WHICH TEMPORARILY GROUNDED THE EARLY MODELS.

3. THE SWEDES BELIEVE THEIR MOST TELLING POINT, HOWEVER, IS THE LONGEVITY OF THE AIRCRAFT. THEY SAY THEY HAVE CON- VINCED THE IAF THAT THE REPLACEABLE AVIONICS PACKAGES IN THE VIGGEN RENDER IT CAPABLE OF PERIODIC MODERNIZATION WITH THE RESULT THAT IT WILL BE VIABLE UNTIL 2000 (WHICH SOUNDS A BIT FAR FETCHED TO US). OUR SWEDISH COLLEAGUE SAID THE PROPOSAL CONTINUES TO BE THAT THE INDIANS BUILD THE AIRFRAMES AND POSSIBLY SOME ENGINES OR ENGINE COMPONENTS, BUT THE SWEDES PROVIDE THE AVIONICS. SINCE THE INDIANS WANT "THE BEST", ACCORDING TO OUR SWEDISH CONTACT, THE IAF REGARDS THE AVIONICS AS VITAL. MOREOVER, THE SWEDES WOULD NOT CONSIDER SELLING THE VIGGEN WITHOUT THE "BLACK BOXES." THESE FACTORS, THE SWEDES ASSERT, GO A LONG WAY TO OFFSET THE DISADVANTAGE OF RELATIVELY HIGH INITIAL UNIT COST. ANOTHER INDUCEMENT, AS SEEN BY THE SWEDES HERE, IS THAT SAAB SCANIA HAS COMPLETED ITS SURVEY OF INDIAN EXPORTS AND CONCLUDED IT COULD MARKET SEVERAL ITEMS IN SWEDEN OR THE WEST MAKING A BARTER TYPE ARRANGEMENT AT LEAST FEASIBLE FROM THE SWEDISH POINT OF VIEW.

4. THE SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER IS DUE ON A VISIT TO NEW DELHI CIRCA MARCH 1. THE SWEDES ARE BRACED FOR ANOTHER INDIAN APPEAL FOR CREDIT WHICH OUR COLLEAGUE SAYS SWEDEN WILL NOT GRANT, BUT HE DID SAY THE MINISTER WOULD STRONGLY SUPPORT THE VIGGEN SALE. OUR COLLEAGUE WOULD NOT SAY WHAT OTHER CONCESSIONS THE SWEDES MAY BE CONSIDERING. 5. THE SWEDES HERE HAVE ALSO MADE IT QUITE CLEAR THEY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY INFLUENCES IN THE FINAL DECISION IN THE FIGHTER SWEEPSTAKES. OUR COLLEAGUE DESCRIBES RANJIV GANDHI IN FLATTERING TERMS, AND CONTENDS HIS TECHNICAL EXPERTISE IS OF A HIGH LEVEL. THIS MAY OR MAY NOT BE. OFFHAND WE WOULD HAVE THOUGHT A TRANSPORT PILOT NOT THE BEST EXPERT TO RELY UPON IN EVALUATING A FIGHTER PLANE, BUT THEN WE ARE SPEAKING OF A TRANSPORT PILOT WHO HAS ANOTHER AND PERHAPS MORE RELEVANT QUALIFICATION. CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL

For more context about the Jet Deal, read on at the Hindu: Rajiv Gandhi was ‘entrepreneur’ for Swedish jet, U.S. cable says.

Also See at the Hindu: Fernandes ‘sought CIA funding’ during Emergency

See all the Kissinger Cables at Wikileaks



 

 

 

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 08, 2013 AT 09:51 IST, Edited At: Apr 08, 2013 09:51 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Nov 05, 2012 AT 15:26 IST ,  Edited At: Nov 05, 2012 15:26 IST

Taking Dr Subramanian Swamy's charges forward, N Sundaresha Subramanian & Kavita Chowdhury ask in the Business Standard: Did Congress pay Rs 89.5 cr to Sonia and Rahul through Young Indian?

The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has, in effect, paid Rs 89.5 crore to Young Indian, a Section 25 company (meaning a not-for-profit one) controlled by party president Sonia Gandhi and her son, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

From the notes of accounts, it appears this sum has effectively given the mother-son duo control over real estate assets running into several hundred crores of rupees.

Sonia and Rahul own 38 per cent each in Young Indian; party seniors Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes own 12 per cent each.

The notes to accounts for the year ended March 31, 2012, filed by Young Indian auditor Pradeep Shah and signed by directors Suman Dubey and Motilal Vora this April, give some clues on the actual structure of the transaction. “In pursuit of its objects, the company has acquired loan owed of Rs 90,21,68,980 by the Associated Journals, presently engaged in achieving a recast of its activities so as to have its main object congruent to the main object of the company, for a consideration of Rs 50 lakh,” the note said.

Thus, this transaction effectively has the effect of cleaning up the books of The Associated Journals (publishers of the now defunct National Herald daily, founded by Jawaharlal Nehru), wherein the entire liability is taken over by Young Indian.

The newspaper goes on to explain the various ramifications of the transaction, raising a number of questions prompting R. Jagannathan of the First Post to ask further, inter alia:

Why is Young Indian, which now effectively owns Associated Journals, not able to say what the real value of the assets acquired in the process is? The answer really lies here: if Associated Journals owns assets that are greater than Rs 90 crore, then the Congress essentially gifted Sonia and Rahul free ownership of assets in excess of Rs 90 crore – even if it is held in a non-profit company.

If, as Swamy alleges, the assets are valued at Rs 1,600 crore, then the nature of the impropriety is extraordinary. Nobody, even a non-profit, can acquire property worth several hundred crores with Rs 90 crore loans from a political party without explaining the reason for the same.

Earlier, Sandhya Jain provides more details about the Associated Journals in the Niti Central: Congress’s unique book-keeping culture

Associated Journals was set up at the initiative of Jawaharlal Nehru on November 19, 1937 (birthday of his daughter Indira) under the Indian Companies Act, 1913. It had a capital of Rs 5 lakh divided into 2000 Preference Shares of Rs 100 each carrying a fixed but non-cumulative dividend of five per cent per annum and 30,000 ordinary shares of Rs 10 each.

The Memorandum of Association announced its objective, “To establish and to carry on in the United Provinces and elsewhere the business of news agency, newspaper and magazine proprietors, printers and publishers and all similar and incidental trades thereof and in this connection to do all such things as may appear to the Directors to be in the interests of the Company” [3 (a)].

The signatories included Jawaharlal Nehru, Purushottamdas Tandon, J Narendra Deva, Kailash Nath Katju, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Mohan Lal Sakra and Krishna Dutta Paliwal. The document was witnessed by Govind Ballabh Pant.

That this venture was intended to be commercially viable is stated in article 3 (d) that the company may carry on any other business “which may seem to the company capable to being carried on in connection with the above or calculated directly or indirectly to enhance the value or render profitable any of the company’s property or rights”....

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Nov 05, 2012 AT 15:26 IST, Edited At: Nov 05, 2012 15:26 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Nov 02, 2012 AT 23:32 IST ,  Edited At: Nov 02, 2012 23:32 IST

In Karan Thapar's Last Word on CNN-IBN, the Janta Party president, was asked why his charges against Rahul and Sonia Gandhi were not as big front-page news as Arvind Kejriwal's charges against Robert Vadra, or Aaj Tak's charges against Salman Khurshid, and if this was because the press was biased against him:

from around 11:48 onwards:

Subramanian Swamy: The press is not biased against me but the press is amenable to pressure and since I have many members of my family who are in the press, I get an inside view of how that pressure works - whether it works through an SMS or a direct telephone phone call...

Karan Thapar: Can you be explicit? Pressure from whom?

Subramanian Swamy: Pressure from people in authority.

Karan Thapar: The Congress party or the Gandhis directly?

Subramanian Swamy: Well, of course the Gandhis. Definitely they've their hatchet men who perform that role...

Karan Thapar: Can I interrupt and ask as to how come that pressure didn't apply when Vadra got exposed as that was front page news repeatedly for a long time.

Subramanian Swamy: Well, I can say that there is an explanation for that. You want to hear that explanation?

Karan Thapar: Very quickly, yes.

Subramanian Swamy: Well, I think Mr Vadra is not a very popular man in the Gandhi family... and there is... I know... you'd say I am getting into personal matters, but there is a separation process going on...and there is a division of property which has become very messy...

Karan Thapar: You are being Machiavellian. Are you suggesting that the Gandhis themselves saw it in their interest to allow stories about Vadra to hit the front pages?

Subramanian Swamy :
That's right, that's right...That's what I am saying...

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Nov 02, 2012 AT 23:32 IST, Edited At: Nov 02, 2012 23:32 IST
     
 
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