Hear it as they spoke it: The Ratan Tata, Barkha Dutt & Other Tapes
Niira Radia: Hi, did I wake you up?
Barkha Dutt: Hi Niira. I have been up most of the night. The stalemate continues.
NR: They need to talk to him directly. That’s the only way. And that is the problem.
BD: Apparently now the message from the other side is why did Baalu go public? They claim that at this point they had offered them this formula and these guys said no. These guys never told them they would withdraw outside support. Apparently, the PM is pissed off that Baalu went public.
NR: That’s Baalu’s doing na?
BD: Yeah. Baalu’s doing. He’s not being instructed by Karunanidhi to do that.
NR: He was told to tell the Congress and come away. But the media was outside.
BD: Oh god! So, now what should I tell them? Tell me.
NR: I had a long chat with the wife and the daughter. The problem is they need to talk to Karunanidhi directly. The problem is they cannot talk in front of Maran, Baalu. They need to talk to Karunanidhi directly. There are enough Congress leaders from Tamil Nadu who can do that. The biggest problem is the followers of Azhagiri are saying you cannot give Maran a cabinet post and keep Azhagiri in the minister of state status.
BD: Will Karuna drop Baalu?
NR: Look, if you tell him Baalu is the only problem, I’d imagine he will drop him.
BD: But you see the problem is also a choice of portfolios, na?
NR: They haven’t said anything. Portfolios haven’t yet been discussed.
BD: Congress claims, for whatever it is worth, that DMK wanted surface transport, power, IT, telecom, railways and health. Abhi Congress has offered IT, telecom, chemicals and fertilisers and labour. This is where it stands. Will DMK accept?
NR: Maybe not. They will have to drop Maran if they have to accept that. Maran is pushing coal and mines.
BD: Who is pushing?
NR: Now Maran says you give me coal and mines. My honest advice is you tell them, they need to tell him directly that we are happy because Kanimozhi has no issue even being an independent. But Azhagiri is now telling her you cannot accept independent charge if Maran remains a cabinet minister. Congress is sending messages through the media and through various sources that Maran is going around telling everyone that he is the only acceptable person. That’s not correct, na?
BD: I know. We have taken that off.
NR: Congress needs to tell Karunanidhi that we have not said anything about Maran.
BD: Okay, Let me talk to them again.
NR: The choice of candidate, we leave to you. We leave the choice of candidates to you. We have some reservations about Baalu. Let them tell that we are not telling anything about Maran.
As a journalist whose work has been consistently and scathingly critical of the 2G scam and the former telecom minister, I was astonished, angered and hurt to see the baseless allegations against me in sections of the media and especially in this magazine.
While there is no doubt that journalists must be held to the same standards of accountability that we seek from others, the allegations made by Outlook against me are slanderous and not backed by a shred of evidence. The edited conversations between PR representative Niira Radia and me were misrepresented to suggest that I misused my role as a journalist to “lobby” for A. Raja, a man I have never met.
The strands of this debate need to be disentangled.
On the absurd charges of “corruption” and “lobbying”, Outlook owes me an immediate clarification and an apology.
On the more nuanced debate around the practice of journalism and what could have been an inadvertent error of judgement, I am more than ready to introspect and learn.
While I cannot speak on behalf of the scores of other journalists on the tapes, I’d like to address some of the questions raised by the edited transcripts of my conversations.
Barkha Dutt’s rebuttal is laughable (Dec 13). Journalists, like Ceasar’s wife, must be above suspicion.
T. Soundararajan, Chennai
Barkha’s clarification is astonishing. She projects herself as a hard-hitting, uncompromising journalist. How come, then, that her source got the impression that she might be open to playing backroom dealer? Her ‘humouring’ logic does not cut ice.
Barkha’s rebuttal seems to give the tapes more credence.
Bimal P. Pandian, Sambalpur
Barkha’s points in her defence are fair and well-reasoned. The last few weeks have been an exercise in journalistic cannibalism. She does not deserve that.
Raman Awasthi, Noida
Barkha says she did not talk about 2G, only about A. Raja with Niira Radia and that the only benefit she got from her was a story. Can she tell us what that story was?
Ravindranath Ramakrishna, on e-mail
Barkha kept complaining that “raw material” (that is, the tapes) were used without context to damn her. Then how come her channel airs the details of WikiLeaks?
Vijay Garigipati, Abuja, Nigeria
Thanks for providing evidence of what most Indians believe—that this country, at least for the past 20 years, is being run by corporates. Of course, the media in general is partitioned by big corporate houses. No wonder, everything—from ministerial portfolios to cricketers, from natural gas to tribal lands—are up for sale.
Ravi Bosco, Leuven, Belgium
Niira, Ratan, Kani, Barkha, Prabhu, Vir...all of you are but human. Many do what you have done, only you got caught, with your pants down. Now admit it and move on.
Your high posturing always left us with doubts. And it was to happen and it just happened. Thanks to Outlook, yes I am very impressed with Outlook's courage ( read VM).
I just do not believe you any more. Thats it. You sound so hollow when I see you making those high decible noices in the debates, which are hopelessly rigged unless proved otherwise. Burkha learn to be neutral and objective. Awards you have earned mean nothing for us. We know they can be got by influence.
Truth, madam is a cow that is not yielding any more milk, hence you have gone to milk the bull. Your explanations seem to make lies sound truthful & murder respectable. Your channel & personally your good self have dragged politicians, bureaucrats & the likes through media trials time & again. Now the shoe is on the other foot but your arrogance seems to get the better of you. Rather than be apologetic & rectify your journalistic approach, you seem hell bent upon convincing your innate being & the rest of the world that what you did was nothing out of the ordinary.
Nira Radia runs a public relations firm named Vaishnavi Corporate Communications, and also operates through subsidiaries such as Neucom, Noesis Strategic Consulting Services and Vitcom Consulting. Her clients, among others, include Ratan Tata's Tata Group, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries and Prannoy Roy's NDTV. They are specifically in charge of NDTV imagine. So, when your group is deeply entrenched with the likes of Niira Radia, there will be doubts raised regarding the quid pro quo. So the onus is on you to sound convincing & clear yourself. Neither you nor the online NDTV site believes in taking criticism on the chin.
Rather than fire loose cannon shots at Outlook you could sue them for libel, that would be the right approach. But then you should also be willing for the whole lot of tapes to be put out in the public domain. I do not think that you have the guts to do that, since this may result in a complete exposure of the truth.
We all know Barkha Dutt's closeness to congress particularly with Sonia as its her channel the NDTV who awared "woman of the year/ Indian of the year award to Sonia few years back and the vert nexy year the Government awarded Padmashri award to barkha Dutt as a returning in kind of the favour.s received.
why would NDTV would at all publish thier won stinking crap.no media in Indi who boast of being secular will publish if it bites the very media against whom you are going to write.Free speech in India is a farce.
But U appreciate your persistence with the issue and the perseverence you are showing.
NDTV-shame on you on the way you are trying to shield one of your own -who is clearly at fault.The following comment I posted on the NDTV website on the 30th November video.http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/ndtv-special-ndtv-24x7/barkha-dutt-other-editors-on-radia-tapes-controversy/178964
HOWEVER MY COMMENTS WERE NOT CARRIED
Barkha..its not the error of judgement in taking a "KHABAR" from a source-who as we discover was of dubious reputation-thats important and excusable, please.But its the larger issue that Manu and others raised about cozying up to Congress,about your not feeling any sense of guilt at not raising the alert abt a PR person wanting to fix the cabinet berths.It is no excuse that you did not verify the antedecents of your khabri ,Ms Radia-the question is WHY did you NOT? And if you claim to have answered Manu's queation-please not that you HAVE NOT.its not enough to say that what your channel wishes to broadcast is your business and no else's .If you claim to be a "GOOD Journalist" as you put it, YOU SHOULD HAVE RAISED THE ALERT AND EXPOSED RADIA AS WELL AS DMK.The fact that you did not-is enough to downgrade yourself from a Good journalist to a fixer at large.Atleast Swapan had the courtesy to admit his proximity to BJP unlike your proximity to Congress.
Like you, barkha I was also born to a Journalist (Journalism's child if you will) and I have come up in an enviornment of khabris calling my dad and politicians seeking favors and it is precisely for this reason that I did not join the media-I didnt wish to end up a fixer
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