M A I N   N E W S

2G Scam
Ratan Tata, Radia grilled by PAC 
Tata states he gave Rs 1,600 cr loan to Unitech
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

Industrialist Ratan Tata
Industrialist Ratan Tata

New Delhi, April 4
Noted industrialist Ratan Tata today admitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament that the Tatas had indeed given Rs 1,600 crore to Unitech, but as loan, which was duly returned later with interest.

The fact also finds a mention in the CBI chargesheet filed against former Communications Minister A Raja, currently lodged in Tihar jail on charges of indulging in corrupt practices in awarding 2G spectrum to companies that found favour with him.

Ratan Tata and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia appeared before the PAC and answered questions put to them on the controversial allocation of the 2G spectrum.

The Committee has summoned several corporate head honchos including industrialist Anil Ambani, the Chief Executive of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), Etisalat representative in India Atul Jhamb and Unitech chief Sigvi Berekke, among others, to appear before it on Tuesday.

Tata testified for over three hours this evening before the PAC currently probing the CAG charges of a ‘notional’ loss of revenue of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the national exchequer because of Raja’s partisan attitude towards his favourites.

Radia was grilled by the committee consisting of among others, Yashwant Sinha, Kalraj Mishra, Naveen Jindal, Arun Kumar, Reoti Raman Singh, Bhartuhari Mahtab, P.N. Shiva and Anandrao Adsul for two hours in the pre-lunch session. It “discussed matters” with Tata from 3 pm to 6.45 pm.

The Tata Group chairman, however, had no answers on why he chose to approach Raja through Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, instead of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh if his cause was genuine and above board. Raja is a member of the DMK led by Karunanidhi. Media reports had exposed Rattan Tata’s letter to Karunanidhi, which he admitted to have sent. He also owned up that he went along with Radia to meet Karunanidhi in Chennai.

Disclosing these aspects of today’s proceedings, PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi however declined to elaborate on Tata’s replies but commended that he was “very candid and frank and replied to all our questions.” He also said that Rata told the PAC members that while initially he was skeptical about appearing before the PAC, he now felt reassured. Joshi denied that Tata was ‘questioned’ and insisted that the Committee had “discussed” the issue with him.

The PAC chairman also refused to divulge what Tata had to say about influencing the Government through his lobbyist Niira Radia to appoint Raja the Communications Minister.

But on Radia, Joshi implied that she tried to stonewall the questions put to her. He said of Radia, “She was not too frank and it appeared she was trying to hold back something. It can be said that she was rather evasive.” About the famous Radia tapes Joshi said, “Initially she tried to argue that she had not heard the tapes.” But when she was persistently questioned, she said she had heard some of the tapes. We asked her to give a list of all the tapes she had heard,” said the PAC chairman.

Sources meanwhile said that Radia claimed that she suspected that many of these tapes were doctored and many of them are not genuine. When the questioning persisted, she said she needed to get all the tapes from the CBI first and hear them before she can decide which of them are genuine.

She also denied any links with Raja but stated that she was officially appointed to do liaison work for the Tatas. 





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