World | India

I saved prime minister in telecom scandal, says Swamy

Veteran leader reveals all about scam as he accuses media and politicians of corruption.

  • By Nilima Pathak, Correspondent
  • Published: 00:00 December 4, 2010
  • Gulf News

Dr Subramanian Swamy
  • Image Credit: Nilima Pathak/Gulf News
  • Dr Subramanian Swamy

New Delhi: Dr Subramanian Swamy is President of Janata Party. Well-educated and honest, he is not only courageous, but extremely blunt and forthright in his views.

Widely known for publicly challenging and fighting against prime ministers and chief ministers, it would do well for his political opponents to remain on the right side of Swamy. For, his wrath can undo governments, leave alone individuals!

Though his histrionics have earned him the reputation of being a rabble-rouser, no one can claim to find anything incriminating against him to charge or drag him to court.

Speaking to Gulf News in an exclusive interview, Swamy has openly spelt out names on the telecom spectrum scam accusing both political and media persons for being corrupt.

GULF NEWS: You seem to be treading into familiar territory with 2G spectrum scam what with earlier taking the cudgels with Janata Dal leader Ramakrishna Hegde and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Jayalalitha and several others?

SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY: This is a very serious matter. The others were for a very different reason. Hegde was a member of my party and crafted the impression that he was a very honest and upright man. But he was most crooked and did all kinds of rackets. And, of course, he was tapping telephones of his own people, including his girlfriends! A man who pretends morality had to be exposed. Strangely, in 1988, our own party decided to investigate the incident of telephone tapping and he supported it thinking I wouldn't get to the bottom of it. When trapped, he filed a defamation case against me and later withdrew, which ended his career.

In the case of Jayalalitha, I helped her win the elections and become the Chief Minister. I was also instrumental in providing her adequate security after the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) government, which was close to the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) was dismissed. But after winning, she began doing all the rotten things that the DMK was doing. Whether she or her associates did, I can't say. I questioned her and she got angry with me. In the process she started letting loose violence against me. That's when I said to her, ‘I'll teach you a lesson'. I dropped everything, sat in Tamil Nadu, and brought her down.

Is it because of bringing down governments that you are known as a troublemaker?

That's not true. There are also governments where I've helped. Like, the Narasimha Rao government couldn't have survived but for me. I created the Chandra Shekhar government, which actually initiated the reforms even though it didn't get the credit because it did not last very long. I helped Rajiv Gandhi survive in his worst days when everybody abandoned him.

Just because they [the politicians] can't say I'm corrupt or illiterate, they spread this usual propaganda that I'm a troublemaker. The public doesn't think so. Else I wouldn't have been elected to Parliament five times.

But haven't you kind of dragged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to court — something that was till now unheard of?

Yes, but I also saved him because I thought the press was getting out of control and over-drawing the picture. I said that he sat on my petition to permit me to prosecute telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja. Now, for the first time in the history of India the Supreme Court has directed the PM to file an affidavit. This affidavit shows that every letter of mine was marked by him for action, but his officials told him he didn't have to. He didn't know the law and I don't expect him to. But since Raja was forced to resign by him, I didn't want any more sanctions and said the PM didn't need to resign. Now they [Congress persons] were wild, because they wanted to shoot him with their guns on my shoulder.

Who do you mean by ‘they'?

Congress President Sonia Gandhi. She wants someone more pliable than Singh. He's pliable enough, but obviously, she is not satisfied.

And who do you think could be considered more pliable?

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, if she can't bring in her son Rahul Gandhi.

Are you getting to all this because your party is nowhere in the picture and you wish to remain in limelight?

First of all, whether I'm doing it for this or that reason, the question is am I speaking the truth. Is there corruption or not? It doesn't matter what my motivation is. These are cheap diversionary tactics, which I don't take seriously.

Why has it taken two years for the 2G spectrum scam to come to light?

That's because it took me more than one-and-a-half years to get hold of the documents, which was not easy. I had written to the PM in 2008 and he took two years.

On what basis do you say that it could possibly be the case of the most monumental corruption in world history?

Look at the sheer size of the amount of Rs1.76 trillion (Dh142 billion) the nation has lost. And I'm not talking about the bribe, which itself is pretty big. The total loss, had there been an auction, and what actually it was sold for (Rs100 billion), is huge. The bribe is a thing that out of the gain these people have potentially made and will make over the years. My estimate is Rs600 billion of bribe involved.

Do you suspect the roles of some journalists and editors including Hindustan Times columnist Vir Sanghvi and NDTV's Barkha Dutt in this scam?

Most people are relying on corporate lobbyist Nira Radia tapes. But I know from personal experience that journalists do a lot of hack jobs. If wanted, they character assassinate you at the behest of the ruling party. In my case, the media cannot say anything except that I'm a troublemaker, which doesn't sell very well. They don't publish anything I say unless it becomes impossible like now, because the telecom scam has become a big issue. They've been doing it systematically. When elections take place, many journalists come and ask for money, saying they'll give favourable coverage in return.

In the case of Vir Sanghvi, I know he used to visit Phuket [in Thailand] almost every weekend and the Tamil Tigers used to finance his trips. Because of his lifestyle, I knew he was amenable and a real fixer. He's been writing articles depending on who's in power. As for Barkha Dutt, she's been indiscreet and doing foolish things.

You're quoted as saying that though the PM is honest, others are not. Who are these persons?

Yes, he is honest, but officials around him like his Principal Secretary T.K.A. Nair and Cabinet Secretary Pulok Chatterjee are not with him. They are all Sonia's appointees. Even if you ask for the PM's appointment, her people decide who can and cannot see him.

You've also said that if the PM resigns, it will strengthen those who made money. Could you name them?

Sonia and DMK party chief M Karunanidhi.

You mean Raja is just a face and the real culprits are the biggies of the DMK?

Raja got 10 per cent, Karunanidhi 30 per cent and Sonia's two sisters have got 60 per cent of the loot.

Have you done in-depth research and investigation to make such claims?

Yes, I've enormous access because whatever my enemies may say, one thing is there that I've never betrayed anybody. Today, people in the government are so fed up seeing everything happening in close range and all this material is available with the PM.

Why is the UPA - 2 seeing so many scams?

Earlier, the scams were related to the defence deals, where things were difficult. Now, they have got into things within the country. And since there are lots of players, some of them spill the beans.

You think the recent Mumbai's Adarsh housing and 2 G spectrum scams could be inter-related?

Yes, looks like it. Lots of loans have been given, which obviously have been used.

How soon do you think all this will come out?

Raja getting an arrest warrant will happen soon and cancellation of the licences given so far could happen within the next 2-3 months. As far as the recovery of the money is concerned, of which there is a big demand in the country, that will take time.

However, if the Americans, who know it all, co-operate, we can get it because there is the UN agreement on money laundering.

Do you think the Congress will ask the Americans?

No, they won't. But I can force them to. It's only a matter of time. They know what I can do in court. They can't buy my lawyers, because I don't keep any! I argue cases myself.

Why is the Congress so adamant about not having a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2 G scam?

That's because the JPC will be free for all. And they know that I will start advising the MPs what questions to ask.

One of the questions is about her [Sonia's] sisters having got the money. And if the JPC calls for the intelligence people, they will have to question her because the data is now with them.

Factfile

  • Dr Subramanian Swamy was born in Mylapore, Chennai on September 15, 1939.
  • He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University.
  • He taught at Harvard for 10 years and still holds summer sessions.
  • Entered politics in 1970 and came into limelight for protesting against the emergency imposed in the country in 1975.
  • One of the founder members of the Janata Party, he has been its president since 1990.
  • Elected five times to Parliament (thrice to the Lok Sabha and twice to the Rajya Sabha), representing Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • Has been Cabinet Minister of Commerce and Law & Justice.

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