Angered by Chacko speak DMK skips Delhi dinner
In the midst of the much-hyped tussle between the Congress and the NCP, the DMK’s cold war with the grand-old party, evident from its absence at the Prime Minister’s dinner for newly-elected President Pranab Mukherjee, was hardly noticed.
But, for the past few days, the UPA’s southern ally was no less agitated, with the reason being Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) chairperson P C Chacko’s candid briefings to the media on the 2G probe.
On July 18, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman Laxman Dass and Income Tax top-honchos made a detailed presentation before the JPC probing the 2G scam, tracing the money trail of the Rs 230.31 crore payback by the DMK-family owned Kalignar TV to scam accused Shahid Balwa’s company.
Finance Secretary R S Gujral was also present during the presentaton.
The same evening after the JPC meeting, Chacko, in his media briefing, quoted a point from the CBDT-IT’s presentation, in which it was alleged that Kalaignar TV had received Rs 52.25 crore from 19 ‘fictitious’ Kolkata companies.
This was part of the Rs 230.31 crore paid back to Balwa so that the 2G kickback could be shown as a loan. In the presentation, accessed by Express, the 19 Kolkata companies were shown on a big black star, without names mentioned.
Sources revealed that the I-T officials present in the JPC meeting corroborated the point made by
the CBDT chairman and said that the whereabouts of all the 19 Kolkata companies were checked address-wise and were found to be ‘non-existent’.
Also, the tax-probe showed that there was no record of any I-T returns of these fictitious companies.
Since such a revelation could have a direct impact on DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi’s case that was pending before the court, DMK leaders took up the matter with the Congress top-brass.
An angry DMK parliamentary party leader T R Baalu is said to have rushed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, Ahmed Patel’s residence, to take up the matter, late on July 18 night.
An immediate gag order was put on Chacko, the effect of which was apparent at the next JPC meeting after which Chacko took a flight back home avoiding a press briefing. He, however, maintained that he had not been asked to keep mum and that a parliamentary panel chairman could not be given directions by anyone, which includes the PM.
But what Chacko had revealed to the media was just the tip of the iceberg. The entire CBDT presentation showed that Kalaignar TV had raised money from various sources to pay back Balwa’s company, including Rs 60 crore (as advertisement advance from BCCI chief N Srinivasan’s India Cements Ltd, Rs 24.50 crore from Vijay Mallya’s United Spirits and Rs 30 crore as trade advance and Rs 28 crore as loan from Shaw Wallace).
What’s even more startling is that Sharad Kumar, Director, Kalaignar TV Ltd, had raised money selling off his own mutual funds - Rs 0.3 crore of HDFC MF, Rs 0.5 cr from Franklyn Templeton MF, Rs 1.35 crore from Axis Bank, Rs 4.78 crore from ICICI MF and Rs 2 crore from Franklyn Templeton MF, to make the Balwa transaction look above-board.
Money was also pumped in from Anjgam Films Pvt (Rs 69.61 crore), Saphire Media and Infrastructure Ltd (Rs 83 crore) and Gemini Industries (Rs 8.25 crore).
The 19 ‘fictitious’ Kolkata companies had channelised Rs 52.25 crore through Saphire Media and Infrastructure.