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With Provocation towards all

With Provocation towards all

Author: Virendra Kapoor
Publication: Free Press Journal
Date: January 19, 2009

Nexus between Andhra CM & Satyam crooks! Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Reddy, whose mafia antecedents were well-documented by an economic and political weekly when he first came to power, is resisting a thorough probe into the multicrore Satyam scam. Any fair and independent inquiry will thoroughly expose the systematic theft of Satyam funds and their part-diversion into the pockets of Reddy and his family. It is notable that one of the biggest beneficiaries of Reddy's largesse were the promoters of Satyam. So keen was Reddy to bestow favours on the privately-owned companies of the Raju brothers that in gross violation of all provisions of the environment law he allotted more than fifty acres of forest land to Satyam in Vishakhapatnam. Even the deal to build metro rail in Hyderabad involved the gratuitous gift of nearly 300 acres of public land to the Rajus. But because Reddy kept Sonia Gandhi and other senior Congress leaders in good humour by virtue of his being the party's biggest fund raiser, the party high command turned a blind eye to his misdoings. It is remarkable that when Reddy's son started his own daily newspaper some two years ago, the party high command ignored clinching evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement under which various donors to the trust floated for the Telugu daily were compensated by the Reddy Government with the grant of official favours which essentially involved allotment of highly subsidized land. The newspaper owned by Reddy's son claims to have a daily circulation of over two million copies. It is a glossy, allcolor affair, which at a cover price of Rs two per copy is way below its actual cost. But this should make little difference to Reddy Jr. since he can always tap into the resources of thugs like the Rajus for financial backup. Interestingly, such is the arrogance of the Reddys that in recent years the State Government has left no stone unturned to harass the owners of the hitherto largest selling Telugu daily, Eenadu. Its owner, Ramaji Rao, was arrested sometime ago and the books of his companies were examined thoroughly by the Andhra Government, But nothing incriminating was found. Rao's chit fund company too survived the dirty tricks of the Reddy Government. Indeed, a Mumbai-based financial expert who had arranged a temporary loan for Rao's chit fund company so that it could meet all emergency needs of its depositors was now being harassed by the Andhra Government. In a wholly frivolous case, an arrest warrant was issued last month by the Andhra Police against the said financial expert on the basis of his having been a non-executive director of another firm some twenty years ago. It is significant that when Ramoji Rao was arrested by the Andhra Police he was shown no courtesy and was treated like a common criminal, though he had not cheated anyone or fudged his books of account like Raju of Satyam. But recently when the Raju brothers were arrested they drove down like Maharajas in their Mercedes to the headquarters of the Andhra Police and were treated like the VVIPs they were for the State Government. Even the preliminary statement recorded by the police showed that they were not questioned. The statement consists of the history of the founding of the Satyam which can be downloaded from its website and contains another two pages which are a straight reproduction of the public confession made by Raju himself in which he spoke of the missing Rs 7,000 crores. Navin Chawla set to be next CEC? A piquant situation has arisen in the Election Commission. The Chief Election Commissioner, N Gopalaswami, will retire when the Lok Sabha elections will be in full swing. Seniority-wise, Navin Chawla should succeed Gopalaswamy as the next CEC. But there is a problem. The BJP petition filed against Chawla's appointment in the Supreme Court was referred by the apex court to Gopalaswamy for suitable action. Now, should the CEC recommend Chawla's removal days before his own retirement, it would create an embarrassing situation for the President of India. But Pratibha Patil cannot, will not, act without the aid and advice of the Government. And the Government will be barred from taking any such decision after the model code of conduct of the Election Commission has come into force. Which means that whether or not Gopalaswamy recommends Chawla's removal, he will willy-nilly preside over the conduct of the coming parliamentary polls. And may well achieve his ambition of becoming the CEC despite his controversial record. Unless, of course, Gopalaswamy can recommend action on the BJP petition pending on his desk for several months in the next couple of weeks. Which insiders insist is highly unlikely. Media-savvy PC It was an excuse which even his ardent admirers could have found difficult to accept. The reason given by P Chidambaram for canceling his visit to Washington in order to personally deliver the Mumbai terror dossier to the Americans was that he had to handle the oil employees' and truckers' strike. Now, giving priority to these routine domestic matters over exposing the Pakistani perfidy in the terror attack would suggest a wrong sense of priorities. But, then, you would not expect the streetsmart Chidambaram to publicly admit that the Ministry of External Affairs and the US State Department had both wanted him to drop the visit. The MEA wasn't happy at Chidambaram's unilateralism. After all, he was seeking to poach on what it rightly considered its turf. As for the Americans, they said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wouldn't be available. Also, the US Administration was now fully in transition mode and did not encourage foreign visitors unless it was considered absolutely necessary. However the rebuff from the MEA and the US Administration did not prevent Chidambaram's fans in the media to put a gloss over the hastily-devised headline catching visit.

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