Embarrassed by the Niira Radia tape publications, former CII chief mentor Tarun Das today said he was "more than a bloody fool" to indulge in loose talk about some Cabinet ministers, but claimed he was neither a fixer nor a lobbyist.
"Not really, I am not a political... I am not fixer," he said in an interview on TV news channel CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate show.
Das (71) said that while he agreed to lobby for Radia, he did not do so.
"I did not lobby," he said. Asked why he agreed to do so in his conversation with Radia, Das said, "these are casual informal conversation... I am not concerned with individual positions and individual jobs."
He said the tape episode has brought tears to him and his family, which has suffered. He said industry chamber CII is also "probably" embarrassed and he was "absolutely sorry".
Looking back, he said he was being indiscreet and behaved like a "more than a bloody fool".
Did he mislead Radia, if he did not lobby for her and only agreed?
"I was not deliberately misleading her, but perhaps not completely truthful with her as to what I would do and what I would not do... I had no intention to deliver unfortunately and I apologise (to) her for that," he said.
Das, who was associated with industry chamber CII for over four decades and was known for his high-level contacts, said that he did not deliver Radia's message to the Congress on ministry formation in May, 2009.
On his comment that Surface Transport Minister Kamal Nath takes a 15 per cent "cut", Das said this was loose conversation and he has apologised to Nath for the same.
He said he has "no evidence" that Nath was indulging in any wrong practices and his remark about him was "absolutely irresponsible".
Das said he has sent a written apology to Nath, but has not received any reply.
Asked whether the Transport Minister was shunning and avoiding him, he said, "if he (Nath) was shunning me, avoiding me, I don't blame him."
Das, who said he would listen to his wife's advice and speak less, however did not agree with Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel's comment that Radia was an economic terrorist.
"I don't know whether she is an economic terrorist," he said, replying to a remark whether he would also be seen as Radia's accomplice.
"I hope not. I am not a terrorist. So far I am not sure, apart from a very aggressive lobbying, what exactly she has done is illegal. We have yet to see. Investigations are on," he said.
On the allegations that he sought five acres of land at a concessional price for his son's venture, Das said it was meant for an NGO.
The NGO, run by his son, was involved in soccer training for underprivileged children. He and his son are both passionate about soccer.
On Radia's conversation with Sunil Arora about the former CII chief mentor lobbying with the Prime Minister for Arora's appointment as Chairman and Managing Director of Air India, Das said he did not meet the PM.
"Sounds like that, but it did not happen like that," he said.
Das said the tape publications have not really dented Brand India, as claimed by HDFC chief Deepak Parekh.
"This part is transitory. India's resilience, strong points are so many, I don't see that as an issue right now," he said.
On BJP leader Arun Jaitley's comment about an ethics deficit in the industry leadership, Das said, "he (Jaitley) is very strong. There is ethical leadership... Very fine people."
Das said he had always advised Radia that if she had access to industry leaders, she must align them, because "corporate wars are not good for them and not good for India".
He said he would continue to talk to Radia.
On his remarks about "educating" Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma after he was given the portfolio in the UPA-II government, Das said he meant briefing the minister about export-import and other technical issues like the WTO.
"You can call it education, but it is not to be taken in a negative sense," he added.
Was a Bloody Fool to Loose Talk With Radia: Tarun Das
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