Almost one year back, it was a black day for Indian journalism when Open magazine broke the story of the Radia tapes. The content of the tape was very shocking, it revealed the telephone conversations of Nira Radia with senior journalists, politicians, and corporate houses. The Indian Income Tax department, after getting approval from Home Ministry tapped Radia’s phone lines for 300 days in 2008-2009 as part of their investigations into possible money laundering, restricted financial practices, and tax evasion.
The Central Bureau of Investigation also got 5,851 recordings of phone conversations by Radia. Some of the conversations suggested that Radia was attempting to broker deals in relation to the 2G spectrum sale. If you listen to these tapes on YouTube, you will realize how Radia attempted to use some media persons to influence the decision to appoint A. Raja as telecom minister.
Nira Radia was the owner of Vaishnavi Corporate Communications Pvt. Ltd. The company used to work in corporate communication and liaison related things.
Being the owner of India’s leading corporate communication company, she built strong contacts among media, politics and corporate.
The following names came into this controversy ::
- A. Raja, Telecom minister at that time
- Kanimozhi, Rajya Sabha MP…
- Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons;
- Barkha Dutt, Group editor, English news, NDTV
- M.K. Venu, senior business journalist
- Prabhu Chawla, editor of India Today magazine
- Rajdeep Sardesai
- Shankar Aiyar, then with India Today Group
- Vir Sanghvi, HT advisory editorial director
Some of the biggest names in Indian Journalism were accused in Radia Gate, media controversy, acting as power brokers, middle man and go betweens political parties and corporate houses. Did journalists act as middleman? Is Radia Gate biggest bloat on Indian Journalism?
It was a perfect example of lobbying, let’s see one sample conversation ::
According to the transcripts of the tapes, Radia lobbied against the reappointment of Dayanidhi Maran to the post of Union IT and Communications minister.
Radia spoke with Ms. Barkha Dutt at 0948 IST.
Dutt: ‘The stalemate (between Congress and DMK) continues, ya
Radia: ‘my honest advice is that you tell them (Congress) that they need to tell him (Karunanidhi) directly ..
Dutt: ‘OK, let me talk to them’.
In a later conversation at 1047 IST, Barkha says that it (conveying the message to Congress) was ‘not a problem’ and that she would talk to Ghulam (Nabi Azad). Radia, in a later conversation with Ranjan Bhattacharya, who also appears to be acting as a conduit to the Congress, mentions the above conversation, where she says, ‘I made Barkha call up Congress, and get a statement from Congress whether the Prime Minister has actually said that he doesn’t want Baalu, which she carried that he had never said it’. She also mentions to Bhattacharya, that ‘your friend Sunil Mittal, has been lobbying against Raja (for Maran).’ In a subsequent tape, Nira Radia is heard saying ‘Barkha has got Congress(political party) to issue a statement’.
You can find all these tapes on YouTube.