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.