A man's voice, perhaps connecting : Just one second, huh, just one second
Niira Radia: Hi
Ratan Tata: Hi
Niira Radia: Hi. You’ve got the media chasing me on Mr Tata being approached for becoming the chairman of the international advisory committee for Air India.
Ratan Tata: It’s true.
Niira Radia: Hmmm
Ratan Tata: Nothing has happened. He did come to see me.
Niira Radia: Praful?
Ratan Tata: No, no, the current CEO.
Niira Radia: Jhadav, yeah? He’s Praful’s henchman.
Ratan Tata: Is he?
Niira Radia: Hmm. Completely. He’s been brought in to safeguard the Boeing deal.
Ratan Tata: Oh really?
Niira Radia: So they put out a story saying that, you know, they’re trying to build credibility right now. So I got a call from Times of India saying that Mr Tata has been approached. I said I have no comment to make.
Ratan Tata: Yeah, I think that’s what you should keep saying till we hear anything.
Niira Radia: They are going to run the story in any case because Praful has gone on record to say that you’ve been approached.
Ratan Tata: Let him go on record.
Niira Radia: We’ll just maintain ‘no comment’.
Ratan Tata: Yeah, yeah.
Niira Radia: Yeah, yeah. I’ll do that. I’ll maintain ‘no comment’. Yeah, I’ll do that. You landed in London?
Ratan Tata: No I’m sitting on the ground in Tel Aviv.
Niira Radia: [tone changes] Oh gosh! What happened?
Ratan Tata: The plane is two hours late. We’re all in the plane.
Niira Radia: Oh, dear me. Oh, gosh. Oh dear me. I’m sorry. You should fly in your own plane.
Ratan Tata: Yeah, I know. He kept saying we should do that. I kept saying no. Maybe it wouldn't have worked out, apparently there's a rain stroke in London, everything slowed down, we would have been diverted somewhere else.
Niira Radia: It would've still been your own plane.
Ratan Tata: Yeah, being in your own plane in Brussels [?] won't give you... you know, much joy
Niira Radia: Hmmm. OK. Oh dear me, so you'd reach quite late tonight, huh?
Ratan Tata: Well it is [unclear]
Niira Radia: So you are going to [Someplace starting with Gay... ?] or are you going to London?
Ratan Tata: I am not going to London at all
Niira Radia: Okay. There’s a programme tomorrow, right?
Ratan Tata: But I think that’s in London.
Niira Radia: Oh, it’s in London, okay, okay.
Ratan Tata: Yeah.
Niira Radia: Okay, alright.
Ratan Tata: It’s a bloody black tie affair.
Niira Radia: It’s a black tie affair? Gosh.
Ratan Tata: You know how much I love those.
Niira Radia: Oh, you should have invited me. I could have worn my black gown. (Both chuckle)
Ratan Tata: You could have worn your black gown and gone in my place. I hate black tie affairs.
Niira Radia: I never get a chance to wear my black gown, Ratan.
Ratan Tata: We’ll make some occasion for you in Bombay.
Niira Radia: Yeah, because I have got this Roberto Cavalli gown, you know, which I never get a chance to wear.
Ratan Tata: It’s a what?
Niira Radia: I have this Roberto Cavalli gown which I never get a chance to…
Ratan Tata: Is it in Bombay or London?
Niira Radia: No, I’ve got it lying, you know, with me in Delhi, so I can go wherever with it, but I never get a chance to wear it.
Ratan Tata: Well then, you wear it when you meet Hillary Clinton or — or whom could I suggest? who would be a befitting person to…
Niira Radia: (laughs) No. I’ll wear it when you next wear a black tie, or… you call me.
Ratan Tata: Okay.
Niira Radia: I'll do that
Niira Radia: You got hold of this guy, Sanjay, did you speak to him?
Ratan Tata: Yes, I did, I just did.
Niira Radia: Was he awright?
Ratan Tata: Yeah. He's fine. And he thanked me and said he won't see me tomorrow because he's going to Africa tonight ….
Niira Radia: Kenya, Kenya. He's going to Kenya. He told me quite late that he's going to Kenya. He also manages all the private funds of all the rich Indians in Kenya and Tanzania.
Ratan Tata: I see.
Niira Radia: All the sugar lobby. It's amazing the portfolios he's got.
Ratan Tata: Yeah, must be. Yeah, yeah.
Niira Radia: Yeah, he told me... I had just gone to see Mr Muthuraman a short while ago. He was at the Tata House, at Prithviraj Raj Road
Ratan Tata: Yeah. You did?
Niira Radia: Yes, I went to meet him on the [?] issue and met him. And Mr [AB or AV] Baijal and Nirolkar [?]... [not clear] Nice, nice, nice discussion. It was quite good. He's quite pragmatic, I must say.
Ratan Tata: OK, OK.
Niira Radia: Once I talked to him, he's quite pragmatic, yeah. He's good, he's good. I am on my... gonna go home... and today the court case happened, by the way — the Supreme Court — between the two brothers... nothing, they just [?] till the 20th
Ratan Tata: Which one?
Niira Radia: The one between the two brothers...
Ratan Tata: Oh, the one he filed, and caveat
Niira Radia: Both had filed. Anil had also filed. They've given a date for the 20th.
Ratan Tata: I see
Niira Radia: And by the way, our matter for Sassan also comes up on the same day, before the same bench (laughs)
Ratan Tata: OK. Before the same bench?
Niira Radia: Yes, the chief justice. That'll be interesting
Ratan Tata: Both these cases are before the same judge?
Niira Radia: Yeah, they are, yeah
Ratan Tata: So you will have three cases before them?
Niira Radia: Yes, so you will have one case where we'll say there's been this foul play ... Anil Ambani and then two cases clubbed together between RIL and RNRL. So that'll be quite interesting. Will be quite good. Anyway, let's see.
Niira Radia: I have every intention of ensuring that we...
Niira Radia: By the way, AT&T has cancelled their interaction with Anil Ambani.
Ratan Tata: Oh really?
Niira Radia: What happened, Mukesh sent ... used his US lawyer to send them a letter ... saying that we have an ROFR [right of first refusal] in place, and they wrote back saying they were examining this and the matter is too complicated, and they have no intention of going forward. Given that it could just not end anywhere. Thank God for that. So now he is talking about China Power.
Ratan Tata: I see
Niira Radia: For his power company. Yeah, he has to raise money.
Ratan Tata: I doubt that China Power would like to go into that transaction because they are so conservative.
Niira Radia: Hmmmm. He’s offering them 10 per cent only. There the ROFR is not going to matter.
Ratan Tata: When we offered them something like that, they weren’t at all interested.
Niira Radia: Hmmm. Maybe not.
Ratan Tata: They wanted control and so on and so forth, right?
Niira Radia: So now…
Ratan Tata: I can find out but I don’t want to be unduly interested.
Niira Radia: But he’s got now. In the telecom space France Telecom has said no to him. AT&T has said no. MTN has said no. I think is it Telstra?
Ratan Tata: Of Australia?
Niira Radia: They've said no. So there’s nobody unless [and] until he is going to talk to QTel… is in trouble because they are looking at restructuring.
Ratan Tata: You have talked to Siva?
Niira Radia: Talked to?
Ratan Tata: Siva.
Niira Radia: Yeah, Siva’s gone to court, you know, and opposed that 25th date.
Ratan Tata: You told me that.
Niira Radia: Yeah, so now what Raja told me was that he was going to give him his licence without spectrum.
Ratan Tata: (Laughs)
Niira Radia: So they are filing an application.
Ratan Tata: Go to court again and say that he didn’t get Spectrum.
Niira Radia: Yes, but there is no spectrum available and that’s what they’ve submitted. I know that unless the court can order release of spectrum from Defence and all of us benefit. It’s not going to happen, you know, until… you know, that’s not going to happen. Yeah, I met Raja today. I went to see him today and he is alright. He is a happy man. The Chief Justice has given his clearance on him and he’s happy. He’s really happy with that. I told him the letter’s coming to you… that KK’s letter, you know. But he couldn’t understand why is it a letter and why can’t I bring the cheque to him. I said ‘I can’t do that because there is a process to it and you have to understand.’ Raja is like, you know, he is always all over the place.
Ratan Tata: Does he know that the other guy is gunning for him?
Niira Radia: Yeah. He is fully aware. He told me he said he needs help in the media. So I promised him I’ll help him. I’m helping him Ratan wherever I can, but the thing is that every time you try and help him, he goes and makes stupid statements, you know.
Ratan Tata: Yeah, yeah.
Niira Radia: So you don’t know what to do with him, you know. I told him just learn to keep quiet and keep his head down. As far as the media is concerned. He can’t resist talking to the media, and then he just says everything, you know. He is saying. The latest rumour is that him and Kanimozhi are having an affair which is actually not true.
Ratan Tata: Who?
Niira Radia: His latest thing is that he and Kanimozhi are having an affair.
Ratan Tata: Whose latest thing?
Niira Radia: The latest rumour in Delhi.
Ratan Tata: Oh I see.
Niira Radia: That Raja and Kanimozhi are having an affair, which is not true.
Ratan Tata: Yeah, but spread by who?
Niira Radia: By whom else, Maran, but that’s because Raja, whenever the media comes to meet him or anybody comes to meet him, he keeps on telling them how much of a soft corner he has for Kani, and every time he talks about her, as dark as he is, he still blushes.
Ratan Tata: (Laughs)
Niira Radia: He gives away the sign that he probably has a crush on her and she has got zero interest in him. Everybody then puts two and two together and gossips. You have this really weird man and he can’t understand why his wife is going to beat him up.
Ratan Tata: (laughs)
Niira Radia: He’s telling me today, ‘What do I do with all of these people, to all these rumours?’ And I told him, ‘Don’t talk to people about you have this soft corner for Kanimozhi,’ and that ‘You have to protect her.’ And I said to him, ‘You know, you actually blush.’ He said, ‘You can’t make out I am blushing.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry, but look at your eyes.’ Anyway, he can’t hide the fact that he’s got a crush on her. And Kani says to me, ‘Oh God help me Niira, keep me away from this man.’ It is quite funny. On the lighter side of Delhi, Ratan. But then for the madness that I hate being here. So these are the lighter moments of life. I’m back in Bombay from Friday.
Ratan Tata: Okay, so we’ll get together.
Niira Radia: Yeah, I’m going to be there the whole of next week. You take care. Are you going off from London tomorrow, then you’re travelling to the US? You’re coming back. Okay, I don’t know why…
Ratan Tata: I am coming back. Thursday morning.
Niira Radia: Thursday morning.
Ratan Tata: I’m sorry. I’m leaving Thursday morning and I’ll be back Thursday night.
Niira Radia: Okay, so I’m back in Bombay on Friday.
Ratan Tata: Okay.
Niira Radia: Good. I’m thinking delivery of my new Jaguar on Saturday.
Ratan Tata: Oh, is that so?
Niira Radia: Yes.
Ratan Tata: Good, good.
Niira Radia: Can't wait. (laughs) [unclear] I am thrilled with it
Ratan Tata: Good.
Niira Radia: Yeah. So Mutthu is fine. Ravi's ... Oh by the way, did Sanjay tell you that he's trying for the 140 as well?
Ratan Tata: Yes, he did.
Niira Radia: Yeah, he's gonna do that. He said me just give me time. He's gonna do that.
Ratan Tata: Yeah
Niira Radia: He is a very "Indian English" speaking gentleman (laughs).
Ratan Tata: Laughs
Niira Radia: I am sure you found that from his accent, naa?
Ratan Tata: He sounded like I was speaking to somebody from ...Mittal's Chambers [?]
Niira Radia: He's very much like that. Yeah. Quite a weird fellow... Anyway. I am glad. I hope some of our... y'know I hope the bad times are behind us. I am sure they are
Ratan Tata: I hope so. Anyway, let's see.
Niira Radia: Alright, have a good flight, and hope you take off soon.
Ratan Tata: I hope so too.
Niira Radia: OK, see you, bye.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine