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"Tapes Show Opposing Political Parties Conniving To Subvert A State Election"

Corporate lawyer Suren Uppal on the Essar leaks and the damning evidence they provide in incriminating major political players and businessmen

"Tapes Show Opposing Political Parties Conniving To Subvert A State Election"
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Suren Uppal , 40, is a corporate lawyer with around 15 years of legal practice, first under former Attorney-General of India K. Parasaran and later under P. Chidambaram till the latter became a Union minister in UPA-1. Although the Essar Tapes do not fall in his ken of expertise, Uppal has gone full throttle ahead, even writing to prime minister Narendra Modi. He spoke to Ushinor Majumdar at his office in Noida. Excerpts:

Has anyone threatened you or tried to change your mind on the Essar Tapes?

Many people have tried to make me bring the issue to a convenient closure including one of the Ruias. I told them to turn approver and expose the corruption. I want to see this through because this is the first time that evidence of such high-level corruption has surfaced. On April 21, my client, Albasit Khan also withdrew and has stopped taking my calls. He appeared to be under some pressure and wanted me to withdraw the notices [Uppal sent “caution notices” to Essar and Reliance] and drop the matter. I have met with ministers, written to the PMO and will hand all the material to the government and it can investigate the way it likes. I will also place it before the public and it is their choice how they react and if they want the country to remain this way.

The tapes and transcripts you have shared relate to the previous NDA regime

At the time of the intercepts, the Reliance and Essar employees were all using Loop, Hutch and other services. I think Reliance officials shifted to their own [Reliance] networks soon after that and that is why there are no more conversations after that.

Why did Essar gain from tapping Reliance employees’ phones?

Reliance was in a bad shape at the time and they were undergoing a debt restructuring exercise and needed to manipulate things so that they could survive. Otherwise, they would have been declared sick and sent to the BIFR. Since Essar was the main competition for both refineries and telecom, they had to keep an eye on Reliance.

You speak of conversations about other damning stuff.

There are conversations that show how an entire state’s election was compromised by major political parties, who were oppositional forces, conniving with each other. Then there are discussions of hawala transactions which eventually lead to the Swiss branch of HSBC Bank. In the conversations, Reliance tried to influence cabinet composition – both in the case of Pramod Mahajan and Ram Naik. The budget is supposed to be a secret document till it is shared with the parliament but N.K. Singh discusses it with the Ambanis.

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