As CBI dials M for Maran, Dayanidhi says "wrong number"

The cornered DMK leader was sledging his way out of trouble, attacking the CBI, RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy and Congress leader P Chidambaram.

 |  3-minute read |   22-01-2015
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Hours before the IPL verdict on the Chennai Super Kings, Dayanidhi Maran - who was king of Indian telecom in the UPA cabinet - decided to play judge. He faces a CBI case probing an illegal telephone exchange with 323 telephone lines installed at his home in Chennai when he was minister, allegedly to help the cause of his brother Kalanidhi Maran's firm, Sun TV.

Three of his associates - one of them a former additional PS and two employees of Sun TV - were arrested by the CBI late on Wednesday, in connection with the case. 

"The CBI is trying to fix me,'' charged Dayanidhi, accusing the agency of "Dialling M for Maran". The verdict did not end there. Maran accused the CBI of working under pressure from an RSS ideologue, referring to S Gurumurthy who had exposed the case in 2011. He charged the sleuths with subjecting the three arrested men to third degree and pursuing a case, that is based on fiction.

"There is no telephone exchange at my home, it is just an ISDN line,'' he explained. He also tried to explain that the same facility had been provided to Telecom ministers before him, listing out Sukh Ram, Pramod Mahajan and Arun Shourie. More than the merits and demerits of the case, I found Maran's body language interesting to watch.

Always the kind of politician who likes to bat on the front foot, Maran was today sledging his way out of trouble. The CBI, Gurumurthy and a former "intellectual'' minister in the UPA (a clear reference to P Chidambaram) were in Maran's line of fire.

He yorked them in Tamil, before the impatient national media did a David Warner "Speak in English'' to him. Maran who needs his voice of desperate aggression to reach Delhi, continued to hit outside the park in English.   

Maran's claim is that the CBI had interrogated the three persons several times in the past 18 months and has arrested them now to mount pressure to implicate Maran.

He referred to Gurumurthy's daughter's wedding in Chennai last week where the top brass of the BJP was in attendance. Maran alleges that it is at the mandap that Gurumurthy allegedly asked the leaders not to spare the DMK leader.  But the question that arises is if no such telephone exchange existed, why is Maran scared? What possibly can the three men squeal to put Maran in the dock?  

Gurumurthy stands by his allegations that the illegal high-speed ISDN phone lines were routed from Maran's residence to Sun TV to facilitate fast data transfer of news programmes, causing huge loss to government-owned BSNL. After Maran's pinch-hitting against him, Gurumurthy sarcastically asked if the RSS planted 323 telephone lines secretly in Maran's house in 2006-07 by an underground secret cable linked to Sun network.  

It is politically significant that Maran chose to address the press at grand uncle and party chief M Karunanidhi's home. He clearly wanted to send out the message that the party has not deserted him in this hour of crisis.  But at the end of the day, the telephone exchange case is seen as Maran's headache, for him to handle legally.

The DMK has not forgotten the political damage, the taint of corruption caused in 2011 and 2014 elections. A year before the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, it does not want the carry the baggage of Maran's wrong number.  

Writer

TS Sudhir TS Sudhir @iamtssudhir

The writer is a journalist.

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