Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pressure mounts on Maran to explain his 2G role

Meetu Jain , CNN-IB
Updated Jun 02, 2011 at 12:12am IST

New Delhi: Troubles mount for Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran as, sources say, the CBI will investigate the alleged links between Maran family-owned Sun TV and Maxis Group.

As the CBI tightens its noose in the 2G scam, a worried Maran on Wednesday defended himself for the first time since the controversy erupted.

In damage control, Dayanidhi Maran, after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, met Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and denied any wrong doing.

In a statement he said, "No Telecom Company has invested directly or indirectly in companies owned by my brother when I was the telecom minister. I had resigned as minister when Ms Astro invested in Sun Direct in December 2007."

The statement however doesn't answer key questions like - why did Maxis invest over Rs 700 crore in Sun DTH and SUN FM within months of getting a licence for 14 circles?

Maran said he wasn't a minister when Maxis invested in Sun DTH, but Maran was silent over fact that he was the minister when Maxis acquired Aircel.

The question also remains, how did Sun TV's net worth rise from over Rs 300 crore in 2006 to over Rs 1200 crore a year later?

But the CBI dragnet is tightening around Maran. The CBI could record Shiva Group Chairman C Sivasankaran's statement under section 161 of the CrPC next week. Sivasankaran has already deposed before the CBI over the Aircel-Maxis Sun Direct TV deal.

Meanwhile, the political clamour for Maran's resignation rose with the CPM's Prakash Karat meeting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha and the two demanding the Prime Minister ask him to step down.

"The Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) should ask for Dayanidhi Maran's resignation from the Cabinet. I am sure the Prime Minister will do it if he has already not done it," Jayalalithaa said in Chennai.

"I think it requires a serious investigation. And I hope that the Prime Minister will immediately get it investigated," said Prakash Karat.

Meanwhile, senior lawyer and Lokpal Bill Drafting Committee member Prashant Bhushan, in an affidavit before the Supreme Court, has demanded the CBI probe whether Aircel was arm-twisted by Maran to sell out to Maxis. He also demanded CBI investigation against DMK chief Karunanidhi's wives Dayalu Ammal and Rajathi Ammal.

He alleges that Maran deliberately delayed giving licence to Aircel as long as it was owned by Siva Group and as may as 14 liscences were issued to Aircel, when it was taken over by Maxis Group.

He also alleges that Maxis Group made investments in Maran's family run business Sun Network of Rs 599.1 crore.

In addition to investment in Sun Direct, investment of Rs 111.28 crore was made by Maxis in a FM company owned by Marans.

It's clear that the congress party will stay away from this controversy and will not back any minister if it hurts the image of the government. Within the DMK too there are anti-Maran sections, which will go on the offensive. So as the CBI investigates the case, the question is - will the Textiles Minister be the next high profile casualty in the 2G scam?

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