Monday, 12 March 2012

Doctor swallows bitter pill .. … …

First of all we would like to apologise to our readers for the long absence.  Whispers team members were engaged in the task of conducting survey and random polls with regard to the Uttar Pradesh Polls.  Hence we could not update the site with.     

Tamil Nadu’s famous father-son doctor duo are in a serious mess.   While the physician is facing the heat for his ‘mafia style’  murder hit, his son the veterinarian is facing the heat of CBI for both the murder hit and his underhand dealings as Health Minister.

As we discussed in our article Doctor’s Kolaveri in January 2012,  the noose is tightening around doctor’s neck.   A team of senior officials of the CBI today interrogated doctor Ramadoss.   Ramadoss, who had all along been in a position of comfort and causing discomfort to Karunanidhi, both in and out of the alliance was placed in a tight spot today when he was forced to answer the questions.  In the early 2008, Dr.Ramadoss was causing serious embarrassment to the then DMK government by posing questions about governance in a day today manner.   Further Doctor Ramadoss went to the extent of awarding marks every year about the performance of the then DMK government and awarded ‘fail marks’ to Karuna’s government. 

But Ramadoss who has been evaluating governments was found evaluated by his answers to uncomfortable questions by the CBI officials.    Sources in Delhi say, Ramadoss who was summoned by the CBI was grilled for more than two hours.  The questions were posed to Ramadoss as to his relationship between him and his brother, the simmering tension between AIADMK Minister C.Ve.Shanmugam, Shanmugam’s claim of plot by Ramadoss, role of Kaduvetti Guru, former MP Dhanaraj, his son, etc.  Ramadoss appeared very nervous and was evasive in most of his answers, say sources.

While the senior Ramadoss was interrogated by CBI officials today, last week junior Ramadoss, Anbumani was interrogated regarding the same murder case.    

Sources say, both the father and son are amazed by the surgical precision of the CBI’s investigation which has put them in a tight spot.    Ramadoss who used to command a sizeable vote bank in the northern part of Tamil Nadu found his vote base consistently eroded from the 2009 general elections.    Both the Dravidian parties – DMK & AIADMK wanted Dr.Ramadoss, to cut to size, which eventually happened.   Ramadoss who saw his vote bank eroded in 2009, saw an almost rout in the 2011 assembly polls.    Ramadoss’s constant hopping between alliances was not taken well by the people who ultimately taught a fitting lesson. 

While the CBI’s Special Crime Bureau was quizzing the father and son duo in the murder case, the Delhi CBI’s anti-corruption wing has been building up  a water tight case against Anbumani Ramadoss.   Though there were numerous whispers about the junior Ramadoss making good money in his Ministry of Health during his tenure, no case was filed by the CBI both for want of evidence and the PMK being an alliance partner.  But the trap of MCI Chairman Ketan Desai was a pot of gold for the CBI which is reaping big harvest in the likes of Union Minister Jegatharatchagan, and Anbumani.  While Jegatharatchagan got into trouble for securing approval to his medical college by dubious means, Anbumani is in trouble for granting approval under dubious means.

After the trap and arrest of Ketan Desai, the CBI sleuths started investigating the approvals granted by Ketan Desai.  One such approval where there was glaring violation was Index Medical College at Indore.    Though the Medical Council of India refused to grant approval to Index Medical College citing lack of infrastructure and facilities, a team constituted by the Health Ministry headed by Anbumani Ramadoss inspected the college and recommended grant of approval, which was ultimately signed by Anbumani.    Another team from the MCI which inspected the college 10 days after the approval was granted found the college still lacking infrastructure and manpower.

The CBI had already arrested the owner of Index Medical College – Suresh Kumar Bardoi for forging the signature of 40 doctors and manipulating records.   Dr.D.K.Gupta and Dr.J.S.Dhupia who inspected the Index Medical College and who work in the Safdurjung Hospital have also been named in the CBI’s FIR.   Anbumani’s role came to light when the CBI officials on 20 February 2012 raided the residence of D.S.Moorthy, an Officer on Special Duty to Anbumani till he demitted office.   D.S.Moorthy is a former Intelligence Bureau official and was the eyes and ears of Anbumani during his tenure in the Health Ministry say sources.

Following the rout in the assembly elections in 2011, both the Dravidian parties started treating the PMK as a ‘political pariah’.   Further C.Ve.Shanmugam who escaped sickles of Ramadoss’s men by a nick is also bent upon to see that Ramadoss is behind bars.  Karunanidhi too want to have his pound of flesh since he views the PMK as a perennial threat to his sons’ ascendance.   With arrows flying all around,  both Ramadoss and Anbumani appear to be at the end of their wits and keeping their fingers crossed. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Central Govt's birthday gift to Jayalalitha !!!

The entire Chennai city is being illuminated with hoardings for the birthday bash of Jayalalitha, which falls on February 24. This despite Amma asking his party men not to celebrate her birthday, instead help the poor and the needy. It appears that the Central government and the CBI has decided to give a birthday gift to Jayalalitha in a different form.

As mentioned in our last article, Amma’s next huge problem is managing the appeal filed by the CBI which came up for hearing on Tuesday.  When Jayalalitha became Chief Minister in 1991 for the first time...It was a virtual loot from all sides during her highly controversial 91-96 regime. Her gala Birthday bash in the year 1992 had landed her in trouble and now the trouble seems to have intensified. 
During her first tenure, it was a free run for all Ministers. However, the Ministers and MLAs were curtly told to pay the lion’s share to Amma is what the buzz doing rounds even today in DMK circles. In February 1992, when Jaya’s government was just eight months old,  Ministers and MLAs were instructed to present valuable gifts to Amma on her birthday.   Jayalalitha was gifted with 89 Demand Drafts drawn from more than two dozen banks.   Besides demand drafts Jayalalitha was also gifted with cash of Rs.15 lakhs.   The total amount received by Jayalalitha during her birthday in 1992 exceeded Rs.2 crores.   Jayalalitha promptly deposited all the amounts into her personal bank account with Canara Bank, Mylapore Branch.

One of the demand drafts received by Jayalalitha was from Channel Islands drawn on Bankers Trust Company, New York for Rs.3 lakh US dollars.   Since investigation has to be conducted abroad, the old fox Karunanidhi, in 1996 promptly transferred the investigation to the CBI.   The CBI swung into action and traced that the 3 lakh dollar demand draft was taken by one Dr.K.T.B.Menon of London.   The CBI could not proceed further as Menon died in mysterious circumstances in 1992 itself.

Regarding the remaining demand drafts the CBI sleuths found that the amounts were paid by various functionaries of the AIADMK as a bribe for making them Ministers or Chairmen of various corporations.   CBI sleuths also found that the 89 Demand Drafts were taken by a total of 57 persons.    When the names and addresses of the 57 persons were verified during investigation the CBI sleuths were shocked to find that the names and addresses of 12 persons were fake and they never existed.  Another 12 persons whom the CBI officers interrogated denied ever taking such Demand Drafts.  All the remaining persons were office bearers of Jaya’s party.   The major contributors in taking the demand drafts were K.A.Sengottaiyan and Alagu Thirunavukkarasu – Jaya’s cabinet colleagues – who had contributed more than 25 lakhs each.

The CBI charge sheeted Jayalalitha under Section 11 of the Prevention of Corruption Act which carries a maximum term of five years.   Section 11 of the Prevention of Corruption Act says a public servant is committing an offence if he / she accepts any valuable thing from any person with whom he / she has any connection with the official function.
The trial in the case never took off owing to the fact that both Jayalalitha and the remaining two accused – K.A.Sengottaiyan and Alagu.Thirunavukkarasu kept on filing a catena of petitions before various forums challenging the CBI’s charge sheet. The delay culminated in filing of a petition by Jayalalitha and others to quash the CBI’s charge sheet before the Madras High Court which was quashed during September 2011.  
We in whispers have narrated in details in our article What happened to the CBI’s gift case against Jayalalitha ?.  In our article we had also reported as early as 13 October 2011 quoting Delhi sources that CBI is contemplating to file an appeal against the Madras High Court order.

Now the CBI’s Special Leave Petition against the order of the Madras High Court came up for hearing before a Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Surinder Singh Nijjar.   Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal, appearing for the CBI, told the court that the High Court was wrong in quashing the FIR and the chargesheet on grounds of delay.  After hearing CBI’s counsel the Bench ordered notices to Jayalalitha to reply within four weeks.
The reason of ‘delay’ cited by Justice K.N.Basha of the Madras High Court for quashing the charge sheet against Jayalalitha is unlikely to hold water in the Supreme Court.  Given the tough stand taken by the Supreme Court in various corruption cases, it is quite unlikely that Jayalalitha would get any reprieve.

Jayalalitha who is already reeling under the pressure from the assets case in Bengaluru, this has come as yet another embarrassment for her, at a time when she is dreaming to make it big in national politics. 
But why did the central government wait for four months to file the appeal at this point of time ?   Keep tracking these columns for a detailed report.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sasi's deposition : Round 1

It is exactly what we said  has happened. Whispers in Tamil Nadu narrated in detail in the article “Jayalalitha : The Godmother  ?“ About Amma’s game plan to tame Sasikala and make her toe the line desired by her.  If you think Sasikala did exactly the same, to a certain extent you are right.   In fact, she performed a soap opera much to the discomfiture of the prosecutor and the Judge.   She spoke like a parrot.   She danced in perfect rhythm to the tunes of Amma whose police force is slapping case after case against Sasi’s dear and near.   

At 11 am, Sasikala along with Ilavarasi - brother’s wife, who is also a co-accused in this case, came to the special court in a grey colour Innova car. Accompanied by her lawyers, Sasikala walked inside the court hoping that her deposition would not take place on Saturday. Sasikala' counsel argued that a Special Leave Petition filed in the Supreme Court on her behalf is still pending and prayed the special court to wait for the Supreme Court's decision. But the Special Public Prosecutor B V Acharya was quick to play a devils advocate - quite literally, a furious Acharya who has seen the delaying tactics of Amma and the former Chinnamma in the past, objected and argued that Sasikala's petition was nothing but a frivolous one and if accused are allowed to seek adjournments on grounds of SLPs it would set the wrong precedent in future.   The Judge too rejected Sasi camp’s plea for time citing that there is no stay order in operation.

As the arguments progressed in the court room, the DVAC team led by IG AMS.Gunaseelan and SP TN.Venkateswaran and an intelligence team from Tamil Nadu were watching in rapt attention the emotional drama enacted by Jaya’s erstwhile confidante, friend, business associate, etc.   

With the Supreme Court turning down Sasikala’s plea for translated copies of questions in Tamil and refusing to stay the proceedings, it was time for Sasikala to bite the bullet. According to the original plan this was the day the entire Mannargudi Mafia were waiting for. But unfortunately, their conspiracy against Jayalalitha was out in the open and it was end game for Mannargudi Mafia. Sasikala and Co. are squeezed and pushed to a corner and now it looks like Sasikala, resigned to her fate that she cannot look the other way anymore. With no options left, Sasikala had to face the barrage of questions posed by the Special Judge Mallikarjunaiah.     

Even before the Special Judge Mallikarjunaiah started reading out the questions Sasikala started whimpering and had a depressing look. 
The Judge looked at Sasikala and asked : What is your name? 

Sasikala couldn't answer that question by herself, it was translated to her by the interpreter. Similar pattern followed in the court room.

Judge : What is your age? 

Sasikala : 57

The judge then asked : What is your father's name? 

Sasikala : Vivekanandan 

Judge : What is he? 

Sasikala : Businessman

Finally it was time to face some tough questions, the Judge asked a question based on the document, a sale deed executed building bought for Jaya Publications.

Sasikala said "I was the one who was taking care of Jaya publications. It was a partnership firm and I took care. Jayalalithaa was not involved in the affairs of the Jaya publications."

When Mallikarjunaiah started asking questions about the role played by Sasikala in Sasi Enterprises and the properties purchased in her name, Sasi broke down and wiped her tears in her sari.  

The Judge paused and continued his questions. Sasi who is well aware of the cases slapped against Diwakaran and Ravanan, blurted out that it was she who managed all the affairs of Sasi Enterprises, Jayalalitha is completely innocent, unaware of the happenings in Sasi Enterprises and Jaya was only a dormant partner.    
As Sasikala's deposition was underway at the Banglore Special Court. Back home in Chennai, top officials of the State Intelligence went into a huddle and were passing on real time intelligence to Siruthavur, where Jayalalitha is staying for a week. Whispers doing rounds in AIADMK circles is that Amma has gone to Siruthavur bungalow for a week, as her Poes Garden residence is being altered and is getting a Vastu touch. Poes Garden insiders say Amma wanted all traces of Sasikala's to be removed from Veda Nilayam including Sasi's room. 

As TV channels started flashing news saying 'Sasikala shields Jaya', Sasi gives clean chit to Jaya'. Jayalilatha was aware that it was too early to even draw conclusions.  The Godmother who is not prepared to forgive the Sasi camp for their treachery was waiting to give another major blow to Sasikala.  After her kid brother and her close relative, it was the turn of her husband to face the police in the evening. Ironically for Natarajan the landgrabbing charges have come based on his pet project.  On January 17, Natarajan who addressed his annual Pongal function proudly donated Rs.50 lakhs on the stage for the construction of a memorial for Eelam Tamils who lost their lives in the final phase of the ethnic war. 

Natarajan mobilized Rs.50 lakhs on the stage itself by selling his vehicles and Rolex watch.    Now the Thanjavur police have registered a case against Mr. Natarajan, his brother M. Swaminathan, and associates Chinnaiah, Suresh, Elanchezhiyan and Kubendran for criminal conspiracy, rioting, and criminal intimidation. The complainant Ramalingam had given a complaint that Natarajan and his associates had forcibly encroached upon his 15,000 sq. ft land for constructing a memorial.
As reported by us in our previous story, Jayalalitha is not taking any chances.  Though Sasikala toed the line desired by Jayalalitha in the Bengaluru court, Sasi’s questioning is yet to be completed and Elavarasi and Sudhakaran remain to be questioned.    But will Sasikala, Elavarasi and Sudakaran owing up responsibility save Jaya ?
Legal experts who are closely following the case say that Jaya and Sasikala are under a wrong impression that Sasi’s answers to the questions under Section 313 Cr. P.C. would save Jayalalitha from the assets case.  
The fact is that, In cases of assets disproportionate to known sources of income, the allegation and case revolves only around the public servant – Jayalalitha. The charges faced by Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran are that they aided and abetted the public servant in accumulating assets which are disproportionate. The onus of proving that the assets are acquired by Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudakaran on their own resources should be backed by proper and strong documentary evidence. To put it in simple terms, Sasikala should have shown proportionate income in her Income Tax returns to support her claim that she got the assets in her own name. It is pertinent to note that Sasikala had only completed matric and she had sought documents in Tamil. It would be too farfetched to prove to the Court that Sasikala, who was running a video cassette renting shop suddenly became an entrepreneur and  started earning crores of rupees after Jayalalitha became Chief Minister in 1991. Moreover, whatever Sasi claims should be supported by documentary evidence in the form of Income Tax returns, Sales Tax returns, etc.  Sasi’s claim to save Jayalalitha that Jayalalitha is only a dormant partner should also be supported by documents in the form of Memorandum of Association of Sasi Enterprises.  In the absence of documents to support Sasi’s version, her claim is liable to be rejected by the Court.
Supreme Court lawyers and Legal experts also say, the questioning of accused under Section 313 Criminal Procedure Code is a procedure which gives an opportunity to the accused to explain the evidence that has been adduced against him / her by the prosecution.  It is not a procedure to come up with a fresh theory in the trial at the eleventh hour. And the explanation of the accused doesn’t carry any evidentiary value also. 
Senior advocates of the Supreme Court point out this order by the Delhi High Court in V.S.Yadav Vs. Reena case. Which elicited the evidentiary value of the explanation of the accused under section 313 Cr. P.C.   The Judge Shiv Narayan Dhingra observed that “It must be borne in mind that the statement of accused under Section 281 Cr. P.C. or under Section 313 Cr. P.C. is not the evidence of the accused and it cannot be read as part of evidence. The accused has an option to examine himself as a witness. Where the accused does not examine himself as a witness, his statement under Section 281 Cr. P.C. or 313 Cr. P.C. cannot be read as evidence of the accused and it has to be looked into only as an explanation of the incriminating circumstance and not as evidence. There is no presumption of law that explanation given by the accused was truthful.”
Now Sasikala has answered only 40 questions and still there are more than 300 to be answered. 
Such being the legal position whether the volte face of Sasikala at the fag end of the trial would help Jayalalitha or not is a million dollar question.
P.S :  Amma is set to face another huge problem next week.  Keep watching these columns for details.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Jayalalitha : The God Mother?

It looks like a scene straight out of Mario Puzo’s ‘God Father’.   But unlike the Sicilian Mafia’s operations where muscle men are used to finish-off enemies, Amma’s uses the state machinery to silence her ‘friend turned foes’. 
Jayalalitha appears to be determined to decimate her enemies and emerge victorious in the battle between her and her erstwhile confidantes. Like the Don Vito Coreleone Jayalalitha is systematically eliminating her enemies one by one.   Exactly like the Sicilian Mafia who don’t take kindly to treacheries, Jayalalitha too is not taking the treacherous acts of her former confidante Sasikala lightly.

But, before annihilating her treacherous friends, Jayalalitha also want to ensure that they don’t turn their back in the assets case against her in the Bengaluru Special Court which has entered its crucial stages and the outcome of this case is something that will determine her political future.

The case against Jayalalitha is that she was in possession of assets disproportionate to her known sources of income to the tune of Rs.66.5 crores between the period 1991 to 1996 when she was Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.  While Jayalaitha is A.1 in this case, Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudakaran are the remaining accused. The case which went through a maze of legal hurdles is about to reach its finality in the Bengaluru Special Court.  The trial which was continuing in Chennai was transferred to a Special Court in Bengaluru following the order of the Supreme Court on a petition filed by DMK General Secretary K.Anbalagan.

The case which went to trial in 1997 hit as many roadblocks as possible – courtesy the influential people in the case.   After 15 long years, while the case is reaching its finality, it appears that Amma and her well wishers are pulling strings to wriggle out of the only noose dangling around Jaya's neck.

While Jayalalitha’s turn to answer the court’s questions under Section 313 Cr.P.C. is completed, it is now the turn of Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudakaran to answer the questions.   While the trial has reached a crucial stage, the defense so far mounted by Jayalalitha in the assets case has become very complex.   While Jayalalitha holds a substantial part of the 66.65 crores of assets, Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudakaran hold sizeable assets in their name, which the DVAC has charged as benami properties of Jayalalitha. 

Following the expulsion of the MM cartel members from Jaya’s poes garden residence, things have become very complicated for Amma in the assets case.    If the Judge of the Bengaluru Special Court asks a simple question whether you bought the properties on behalf of Jayalalitha, and Sasikala nods her head it will all be over for Jayalalitha.    Jayalalitha’s life and career now depends on the answer of Sasikala and others for the questions under Section 313 Cr. P.C, since Jayalalitha is the only public servant in the case and Prevention of Corruption Act concentrates only on public servants. 

So what is the Amma's gameplan ?   Whispers doing rounds in Tamil Nadu's political circles is that Amma has resorted to the age old plan of the Sicilian Mafia – Threaten the family of the witnesses. 

Ever since the exit of MM cartel from Amma’s household, rumours were agog about the impending arrest and incarceration of the members of MM cartel.   The choice of the MM cartel members who are first to face men in Khakhi reveals a lot about the game plan of Amma.   Amma chose Ravanan and Diwakaran, to administer the threat as the duo are emotionally closest to Sasikala.  Diwakaran is Sasikala’s youngest brother, and Ravanan is Sasikala’s uncle’s son-in-law.    While Diwakaran is emotionally very close to Sasikala he being the last of the sibling, Ravanan commanded tremendous respect with Sasikala as he refused to re-marry following the early death of his wife and raised his son alone.

So, Amma decided to hit Sasikala, where it hurts the most and thus convey a stern message. Either my-way or Highway. Whispers doing rounds in Khakhi circles is that Amma has instructed the police to pick up Diwakaran and Ravanan and ensure that they remain behind bars.

Both Diwakaran and Ravanan were slapped with a couple of cases.   The first case against Diwakaran is that was instrumental in the demolition of the house of one Kasthuri of Rishiyur Village, Needamangalam.    Kasthuri had alleged that Diwakaran was behind the demolition and Diwakaran intimidated her.

The second case registered against Diwakaran is based on a complaint by one Saravanan of Edaiyur.  He had alleged in his complaint that Diwakaran had threatened and obtained Rs.1 lakh at knife point. 

On the other hand, the cases registered against Ravanan are the height of absurdity.    Based on the complaint of one Ravikumar, a contractor at Sirumugai in the Coimbatore that he was abducted by him in October last year and Rs.10 lakh was sought as ransom for his release and to continue his business a case was registered and Ravanan was arrested.

Ravanan was arrested in the second case last week by the Chennai City Police.  The complainant, R Krishna moorthy, managing director of RK Imay Property Developers, had alleged that he had paid the sum for getting a sand quarry license in Karur but neither he got the license nor Ravanan repaid the amount. Ravanan and two others had threatened the petitioner with dire consequences.   The complainant in the second case against Ravanan is one Krishnamoorthy @ Mannarai Moorthy.   This Krishnamoorthy is an accused in three cheating cases at the Thiruppur Central Crime Branch.  The Thiruppur Central Crime Branch has registered three cases against Krishnamurthy in  Cr. No. 12/2009, Cr. No. 26/2008 and in Cr. No.1/2011. Interestingly in one of the cases, Krishnamurthy is the co-accused along with Lottery Baron San Diego Martin.

The police never bothered to interrogate either Diwakaran or Ravanan say insiders.  Though the Tamil bi-weeklies invariably carry stories planted by the police that both Ravanan and Diwakaran had been giving out details about their collection spree, sources tell whispers in Tamil Nadu that the police were clueless on what to ask to the duo.   Even during the custodial interrogation of Ravanan by Chennai City Police, not even a single question was posed to Ravanan.

Ravanan and Diwakaran are the first pawns in Amma’s dangerous game of deceit. Unlike Diwakaran and Ravanan, Jaya and her well wishers’ diabolic designs failed to work in the case of Special Public Prosecutor B.V.Acharya. The Supreme Court while transferring the trial from Tamil Nadu to Karnataka ordered that “The State of Karnataka in consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court of Karnataka shall appoint a senior lawyer having experience in criminal trials as public prosecutor to conduct these cases.”   Acharya, who was the Advocate General of the Karnataka government is considered as one of the best legal brains in Karnataka was the Advocate General of Karnataka during the chief ministership of Veerendra Patil, Veerappa Moily and even during President’s rule.   

Now with B V Acharya, throwing a bombshell by saying he was pressurized to quit as Special Public Prosecutor from Jaya's assets case. Once again the entire focus is shifted on Jaya's DA case. The DMK is closely monitoring each and every development and chalking out strategies to ensure that the case moves in the right direction.

 Acharya who resigned from the post of Advocate General of Karnataka said,  “For some time, there has been terrible pressure on me to resign from the position of SPP, and I have been resisting it. The State government was apparently under pressure from its central leadership [BJP] that I should quit from the position of SPP in the case against Ms. Jayalalithaa. I was appointed SPP in the case against Ms. Jayalalithaa on the recommendation of the then Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court. The direction for appointment of senior counsel as SPP was given by the Supreme Court while transferring the trial of the disproportionate assets case to Karnataka from Tamil Nadu. I am not willing to give up the responsibility of SPP as I was chosen for that assignment by the then Chief Justice.”   Both the DMK and the Congress were quick to term pressure on Acharya as ‘quid-pro-quo’ between AIADMK and BJP.

Whispers doing rounds in political circles across the country is that, Jayalalitha, who is found hobnobbing with the saffron brigade for quite sometime has apparently pulled her strings with the BJP leadership, albeit maintaining an equidistance from both BJP and Congress. Now,   Acharya’s revelations has stripped the mask from the BJP which is putting up a brave face as ‘crusader against corruption’.  The candid admission by Acharya that BJP top leadership had pressurized him to resign from the post of Special Public Prosecutor naturally explains Amma’s continuous tirade against the Congress. Whispers doing rounds is that now things have gone to a level where even the BJP will not be in a position to help Jaya.

With the move of Jaya and her well wishers to remove Special Public Prosecutor Acharya having miserably backfired, whether the enigmatic sphinx of Tamil Nadu has any other ace up her sleeve, remains to be seen.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Chief Secretary Sarangi to be shown the door ?

If whispers in Secretariat are to be believed, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Secretary and erstwhile blue-eyed boy Debendranath Sarangi, is likely to be shown the door.
Debendranath Sarangi, the top bureaucrat in Tamil Nadu used to be very close to the DMK regime in the past.    In fact, K.N.Nehru, who was one of the biggest looters in the DMK regime, handpicked Sarangi for the post of Transport Secretary.  Nehru’s loot in the Transport Department has no par. Sarangi, during his tenure as Transport Secretary, gave his tacit cooperation to K.N.Nehru in his loot, say sources.   Sarangi’s clout in the DMK regime is attributed to his mentor and former Chief Secretary K.S.Sripathi.   Sripathi, with whom Sarangi is reported to be very close maintains his contacts with him, even now, say sources.

In 2009, Sarangi was shifted as Environment Secretary where he stayed for about a year. Following his stint as Environment Secretary, Sarangi was posted to the Tamil Nadu Industrial Corporation in September 2010, where he continued till he was made the Chief Secretary by Jayalalitha in May 2011.  During his tenure as Chairman, TIDCO, Sarangi is reported to have purchased a Home Theater system worth Rs.5 lakhs, from TIDEL park funds.  TIDEL park comes under the control Of TIDCO.

Former Chief Secretary Sripathi, who became the Chief Information Commissioner of Tamil Nadu courted trouble when a complaint was filed against him for securing a flat meant for bureaucrats, after his retirement.   According to media reports the complaint has been sent to the Governor and a report has been sought from the Chief Secretary. Owing to the close camaraderie between Sarangi and Sripathi, the former has promised a helping hand in closing the issue for Sripathi, say sources.    

Jayalalitha made Debendranath as her Chief Secretary immediately after assuming charge, shunting off the former CS S.Malathi to an insignificant post.  The buzzword in IAS circles is that Jayalalitha was not aware of the dubious background of Sarangi and had she been aware, Sarangi might be adorning any one of the post of Commissioner for Disciplinary Proceedings.  Sarangi is reported to be very close to KD brothers and it was Sarangi, who as Revenue Secretary extended the lease for Golf Club to ‘India Cements’ Srinivasan on the instigation of KD brothers.   Sarangi is also reported to be very close to the granite lobby – Pallava Granites, Gem Granites, PRP granites, etc.

After becoming the Chief Secretary, Sarangi was the reason for the creation of what is called the ‘Odisha lobby’.   Sarangi was instrumental in ensuring that officers from Odisha are placed in key positions.    The posting of J.K.Tripathy as Chennai City Commissioner and K.C.Mahali as Coimbatore City Commissioner is attributed to Sarangi.   Even after allegation of high handedness by Rajesh Das both in Paramakudi and during the Mullai Periyar agitations, it was Sarangi who protected Rajesh Das as a godfather.

In the subsequent reshuffles too, Sarangi had a role to play and he played it with perfection, add sources.  When Jayalalitha was upset about her new Home Secretary Sheela Rani Chunkath and wanted a replacement, it was Sarangi who suggested the name of Rameshram Mishra, who also belong to the Odisha clan.    When the MM cartel were expelled and Jayalalitha wanted a change in the intelligence wing, the initial suggestion made by DGP Ramanujam was to bring in Tamil Nadu cadre IPS officer T.V.Ravichandran.  Ravichandran is now serving in the Intelligence Bureau from 2003.    Sources say, even Ravichandran’s consent was obtained by Ramanujam.   But, all of a sudden Sarangi brought another member of Odisha lobby, Amresh Pujari as Inspector General of Intelligence, say sources.

After becoming Chief Secretary Sarangi is reported to be involved in a spat in the Madras Cricket Club. Sarangi who use to have drinks with mentor Sripathi, went to the Club on 2nd October forgetting that it is a dry day.  In spite of the bearer informing that it is a dry day, Sarangi flaunted his present position and was supplied with drinks much to the ire of the other members.  The other members who were denied drinks, were cursing ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ for the ‘dry day’.   

Now, luck appear to be running out of Sarangi, as Amma’s ire is turned towards Sarangi say fort st George sources.

With the assets case dangling like a Damocles sword over her head, Jayalalitha was very desperate for some sort of relief.  The MM cartel is also adding fuel to Jaya’s anxiousness.    Jayalalitha who was hoping against hopes for a relief from the Supreme Court was disappointed when the Apex court refused to intervene.

In fact the set back for Jaya is attributed to Sarangi’s decision to send a communiqué to the Investigating Officer in Jaya’s assets case – G.Sambandham.
In his petition submitted before the Bengaluru Special Court, which is hearing Jayalalitha’s assets case, Sambandham wrote “It is submitted that the review meeting of the Chief Secretary and Commissioner for Administrative Reforms taken place on 3.6.2011 at Chennai relating to the cases pending at the Special Investigation Cell, Vigilance and Anti-Corruption and the Chief Secretary has pointed out certain lapses occurred in the Special Case No.208/2004  during investigation and directed to rectify the lapses, discrepancies, and infirmities pointed out by his D.O. Letter No.2998/VC III/2011 dated 8.6.2011.
Pursuant to such directions the Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption has also instructed to comply with the orders of the Government.”  Citing this, Sambandham in his petition went on to add that based on a Supreme Court judgment, he is proceeding with further investigation in Jaya’s assets case, without the orders of the Court.

DMK’s General Secretary K.Anbalagan, approached the Karnataka High Court and sought the quashing of the plea of the Investigating Officer for further investigation.   Justice V.Jagannathan of the Karnataka High Court observed in his order …
“What is clear from the contents of the aforesaid communication is  the following:
(i)             Further investigation is not sought by the Investigating Officer on his own volition.

(ii)      The I.O. did not notice any lapses in the investigation but it is the Chief Secretary who has pointed out certain lapses according to the letter.

(iii)    The Chief Secretary has directed the I.O. to rectify the lapses, discrepancies and the infirmities pointed by the Chief Secretary in his letter dated 8.6.11.

(iv)   The DVAC has been directed to comply with the objects of taking further investigation is said to be to rectify the lapses.

(v)          It is pursuant to the aforesaid directions that the DSP has thought it fit to take up further investigation. 

Thus it is clear that the need for further investigation arose not on account of the I.O. being satisfied to take up further investigation, but on the other hand, the promptness of the directions as well came from the Chief Secretary to the I.O.  In other words the I.O. did not find any lapses or discrepancies in the investigation, but it is the Chief Secretary who has pointed out the lapses to the I.O.”

This is the main ground adopted by the Karnataka High Court Judge to dismiss the DVAC’s plea for further investigation.   An order for further investigation would have enabled Jayalalitha to put the assets case against her permanently in cold storage or even manage to wriggle out of it.

Sources tell whispers that the lapse committed by Debendranath Sarangi in sending a D.O. letter to DVAC’s I.O. for further investigation, for which he is not competent to do so, has become the last nail in the coffin for Jayalalitha.

Jayalalitha’s fond hope of getting some sort of relief from the Apex Court was shattered when the Supreme Court not only disallowed DVAC’s plea for further investigation, but also gave a direction to the Trial court to “ direct the Trial Court to conclude the trial of the cases    as   expeditiously  as possible.”

With the odds stacking up against the top bureaucrat Debendranath Sarangi IAS, his days as Chief Secretary appears to be numbered.

Its not over Mr. Chidambaram!!!

Unlike the Shakespearean play, ‘All is well, that ends well’  it appears it won’t end well for Chidambaram.    The Special Court hearing the 2G plea could have given Chidambaram a new confidence when it dismissed Subramanian Swamy’s plea to add Chiddu as co - accused along with A.Raja in the 2G scam. Whispers doing rounds in the Delhi's North block is that Swamy's camp is already involved in finding out the "Chidambara Ragasiyam" - "Secrets of Chidambaram".

Special Court Judge, O.P.Saini, in his order said, “In the end, Mr. P. Chidambaram was party to only two decisions,  that is, keeping the spectrum prices at 2001 level and dilution of equity by the two companies. These two acts are not per se criminal. In the absence of any other incriminating act on his part, it cannot be said that he was prima facie party to the criminal conspiracy. There is no evidence on record that he was acting in pursuit to the criminal conspiracy, while being party to the two decisions regarding non-revision of the spectrum pricing and dilution of equity by the two companies.”
According to legal circles, there is every possibility that this judgment gets reversed in higher courts exactly like Chiddu’s fortunes. It is true that Subramanian Swamy did not have enough evidence against Chidambaram except for a few documents which he got from the North block and on court's direction. In the name of exposing Chidambaram, Subramanian Swamy was busy in blowing his own trumpet instead of putting up a water tight case against Chidambaram. 

Whispers doing rounds in New Delhi circles is that, Swamy's camp is now probing another angle of Chidu's involvement in the 2G scam.  It was during Dayanidhi Maran's tenure. According to CBI’s FIR against the Dayanidhi Maran, “On December 26, 2005, Aircel was taken over by Global Communications, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Maxis Communications, and Deccan Digital Network, a joint venture company formed between Sindya Securities and Global Communications.”

Aircel, a firm started by Sivasankaran, is a joint venture between Maxis Communications Berhad of Malaysia and Sindya Securities & Investments Private Limited, whose shareholders are the Reddy family of Chennai, with Maxis Communications holding a majority stake of 74% according to its website.

Suneeta Reddy
Apollo Hospital’s promoter Pradhap Reddy had clarified at the time of registration of CBI’s FIR that Sindya Securities and Investments Pvt Ltd are promoted by P Dwarakanath Reddy and Suneeta Reddy have investments in Aircel entity and this is a strategic investment in telecom sector, which was a growing business opportunity. Suneeta Reddy is the daughter of Pradhap Reddy. Why would a popular hospital make investments in telecom sector which they claim as ‘a growing business opportunity’  is the question lingering in the minds of many business brains? So far neither Reddy nor anyone has answered this question. 
The buzz in business circles and medical circles is that the investment in Aircel by Apollo is a ‘quid pro quo’.  Srinithi Chidambaram, who is married to Chiddu’s son Karthick Chidambaram is working as a physician in Apollo Hospitals.  Grapevine has it that, Chiddu was allotted shares of Apollo Hospitals from the promoters quota in the name of his daughter in law – Srinithi and in turn Chiddu allotted his share in the pie – Aircel to the ‘Reddys’.  

Whispers doing rounds in CBI circles is that, at the time when CBI raids were conducted at the residences of Dayanidhi and Kalanidhi Maran, a team of officials were present at Suneeta Reddy's residence in the posh locality of Nungambakkam. But neither there was any official confirmation from the CBI nor the Apollo hospitals. CBI insiders say a team of officials have gone there to ensure Srinithi Chidambaram's angle is never taken into consideration. 

Whispers doing rounds in TN Political circles is that The Mighty Marans who are aware of this dealing has made it clear that if the CBI moves an inch against them... it would hit Chidambaram.    This is the mystery behind the CBI’s reluctance in proceeding against the KD brothers.

The strong connection between Chiddu and Apollo and vice-versa could be seen from the decision of Apollo Hospital management to open a 110 bed hospital in Karaikudi, a sleepy town in Tamil Nadu, which is also the home town of P Chidambaram. Whispers doing rounds in medical circles say that the project was announced after Chiddu’s daughter-in-law was allotted with shares in Apollo Hospitals in 2009.

The Karaikudi Apollo Hospital was opened by none other than Manmohan Singh on 27 December 2011 in the presence of Chiddu. Why should the Prime Minister of a country spend his time to open a hospital in a sleepy town? CHIDDU.
Illustration : Tehelka
While the KD brothers received crores of rupees from Ananthakrishnan as a quid pro quo for arm twisting Sivasankaran – promoter of Aircel, sources say Chidambaram was allotted shares in his daughter-in-law Srinithi’s name as a quid pro quo for turning a Nelson’s eye to a gross violation.  According to the then existing norms, Foreign Direct Investment is not permitted in telecom sector beyond 74%.   However, Maxis in a filing with the Malaysian stock exchange, Bursa Malaysia, in March 2006 said it had an economic interest of 99.3% in Aircel, compared with its direct and indirect equity stake of 74%.

Whispers doing rounds in Delhi circles is that, an RSS think-tank is meticulously researching about ‘insider trading’ by Chiddu’s son Karthick Chidambaram when Chiddu was finance minister.  Research is also being conducted into the interest of Chiddu’s son Karthick Chidambaram into the astonishing growth of ‘Vasan Eye Care’, a chain of hospitals in a short span. P.Chidambaram has always been closely associated with Vasan Eye Care.   It was Chidambaram who inaugurated Vasan Eye Care’s 25th Hospital and 100th Hospital, which happens to be at Chiddu’s home town – Karaikudi.   The Vasan group of hospital, which entered into  Chennai in 2008, now has 15 branches in Chennai alone. 

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has an old score to settle with Chiddu for bugging his office has gathered enough dirt on Chiddu, say sources.

As of now, the breather given by Special Judge O.P.Saini, appear to be temporary. 

Saturday, 4 February 2012

DMK: Battle of the bloods !!!

The DMK which has weathered many storms in the past is battling the worst cyclone ever.    “A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair” said Machiavelli.   The desperation of Karunanidhi’s siblings appears to be the eye of the storm.  Karunanidhi looks like a cornered cat...  A man without options....  And an old man in despair ....   Karuna’s extreme anxiety and frustration echoed in his speech. "There is no need for me to beg for votes to remain the party president. We will conduct an election for the post at the next general council meeting. Let the outcome decide who will lead the party" spoke Karunanidhi  in the DMK’s general council meeting. 

The serious infighting within the family was out in the open and reached a crescendo, even before the much hyped DMK high level committee meeting followed by General Council. While M.K.Stalin was determined to end his long wait for ascendancy  MK Azhagiri, threw his hat in the ring and threatened to boycott the general council if there was change in leadership.  For her part,  Kanimozhi's mother Raasathi Ammal pressurized Karunanidhi to elevate her - A proposal that was opposed by all the stakeholders - Stalin, Azhagiri, Karunanidhi's daughter Selvi and the Marans.

Till Kanimozhi was in prison, Karunanidhi entire focus was getting her daughter out of prison.    To save his daughter he went to the extent of shifting the entire blame on A.Raja, his erstwhile blue-eyed boy.   While Karuna was glued to Delhi, the DMK’s much hyped strongman MK.Alagiri was running for cover from the onslaught of Amma and her police. Alagiri was seen shunting between Delhi and Madurai with his family and had even packed off his son Durai Dayanidhi abroad.    Stalin utilized this opportunity to strengthen his ground.    Stalin who has become a crafty politician had slowly and carefully started building his armory for a final onslaught. As a first measure, Stalin ensured that Kalaignar TV comes under his control completely which was reported to be Kanimozhi’s dream project.   Stalin made his confidant P.V.Kalyanasundaram as its Director, even without informing major stakeholders Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar.   

After taking over Kalignar TV indirectly, M K Stalin's focus was to capture the party and the best way is to bring about some organizational changes and place his loyalists at all levels, which is seen as a plot against Karunanidhi.

The chanakya of Tamil Nadu seems to have sensed M K Stalin's ulterior motives and DMK insiders say that Karunanidhi decided to throw spokes in Stalin’s roller coaster ride.    Sources say it was Karunanidhi who instigated DMK strongman Veerapandi Arumugam to speak against Stalin’s elevation.

While addressing the meeting, Mr Arumugam,  said it would not augur well for the party if one section in the South was led by one son and another section in the North by another son.  Immediately after hearing this, Stalin’s supporters who were in large numbers were up on their feet and started shouting slogans against Arumugam, which forced him to cut short his speech.

Karunanidhi who is used to browbeat any opposition found it surprising that such slogan shouting and throwing of chairs happened in front of him.   Karuna referred to the violent incidents in his speech and said that  some goondas had entered the meeting in the guise of supporting Mr Stalin and had tried to drive a wedge in the party though Mr Arumugam had not said anything objectionable.   Karuna also made it categorical that the decision of leadership would be taken after a year.The fact that he had to wait for one more year to don the mantle drove Stalin wild. He was furious and left Anna Ariyaliyam in a huff. Sources close to M K Stalin say that he so dejected by the way Karunanidhi candidly opposed his plans and is being a hurdle. A furious Stalin almost decided to put in his papers is the whispers doing rounds in DMK circles.

Immediately after the General Council meeting the entire top brass of the DMK went into a huddle, Karunanidhi held another rounds of serious talks with the party seniors, then a team of top level leaders of the DMK TR Baalu, Dayanidhi Maran and others including Selvi landed at M K Stalin's cenatoph road residence to pacify him.

But Stalin is on a war mode say sources.  He understands that it is now or never.   Stalin who used to be a docile person now wants to ascertain himself due to the new player in the fray – Kanimozhi.   It remains to be seen, who emerges as the winner in the Battle of Bloods - the father or the Son.