Saturday, Sep 25, 2021

The Power Tapes

The other big 'national resource' story involves the virtual who's who: Ambani V/s Ambani V/s Tata, gas and power sector war involving big name journos, politicians, babus, corporates

The Power Tapes
The Power Tapes

While the Spectrum scam tapes have been talked about, what has not received adequate notice so far is the lobbying and controversy surrounding the division of gas between the Ambani brothers. The conversations in this set seemingly include journalists Vir Sanghvi of the Hindustan Times; Prabhu Chawla of the India Today group; and G. Ganapathy Subramaniam and M.K. Venu of the Economic Times...

While we are yet to fully absorb and understand the various intricacies and ramifications of the very many conversations on record, and clearly, there are many serious issues at stake here including those of privacy (who authorised these taps), timing of their made public and on-going corporate wars but it is eerie how casually a discussion, for example, about the battle for power sector involving Tatas and Reliance in Maharashtra segues into instigating the likes of Shiv Sena and other groups like the MNS and how easily corporates play and manoeuvre the "protests" by goon-gangs of political outfits to further their ends.

Also, how easy it seems for these power-brokers to casually fix not just politicians -- e.g. Venkaiah Naidu of the BJP here is mentioned as amenable to persuasion, as against Arun Shourie, for example -- but also, in their narration, the higher judiciary.

Some of the abbreviations:

  • MM: Manoj Modi, Mukesh Ambani's right hand man in Reliance
  • Ganu: G. Ganapathy Subramaniam of the ET
  • MDA: Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani
  • ADA: Anil Dhirubhai Ambani
  • MK Vinu/Vinu is M.K. Venu
  • Following files said to be K. Venugopal, Editor, Hindu Business Line
    Vinu-fudged RCOM figs-gas-Curse on AmarSingh-20090616-200515 &
    Vinu perhaps-All issues-mainly spectrum-20090616-195137

The file-names below are as in the CD handed over to the Supreme Court. They seem to follow the format of the date and time of the recording in the file name, thus -20090620-143207 seems to refer to a recording of 14:32:07 on 20 June, 2010.

Please allow a few seconds to elapse before the recordings begin.

  • IMP-Prabhu Chawla Gas judgement discussion-20090620-143207

PC: Where is Mukesh? ...I wanted to forewarn him (that HC judgement on Gas is coming against him
NR: Tell me, Prabhu, judgement is fixed hai na?

PC: Is desh mein hain na ... dono(bhai) fixe kar sakte hai(judgement)....Mukesh still depends on his old network, maybe his wife also dominates him... the way things are moving, Mukesh, poor fellow is not able to get the right feedback... convey to Mukesh that the way he is going about the supreme court, is not the right thing... I won’t tell you more than that..

  • 80(1)D MDA says no benefit-20090706-202201
  • ADA's movements-20090709-212356
  • Advising Tata Power to claim Gas-20090707-171110
  • Air India story-one more-20090707-204412

With Jaideep Bose, ET: "The whole intention of Praful Patel was to strip the airline... huge amounts of kickbacks have taken place in various aircraft purchases... but he's raped it, asset-strip so that he could give it away to Vijay Mallya and Naresh Goyal... Praful's a silent partner in Indigo..he's made at least in the vicinity of 15,000 crores.. and they removed Sunil Arora because he had sent a whole dossier to PM and Sonia Gandhi... Praful wanted him out because he wouldn't cut deals".

  • Air India Story-PPatel screwed it-20090708-094637

Surojit: Praful Patel 'screwed up the airline' and now wants to bring in Ratan Tata to tell the PM that he would do something. 'It was Sharad Pawar who wrote to Vajpayee to allow Naresh Goel to bid for Air India' and these are the people who are now trying to say that they are trying to revive the airline

  • arranging Baijal TATA meeting-20090708-212821
  • BJP-Revolt-20090610-154248

Discussing a BJP revolt and LK Advani coterie with Navika Kumar of Times Now, telling her not to pass on info to Arun Jaitley

  • Blowing EIB news-20090704-115530
  • Circulate Dainik Jaagran to all MPs-20090706-110522
  • CNBC gas arguement in thier favor-20090615-115849
  • Countering Bodhi-20090707-230847
  • Daljit-Tony has destructive strategy-20090709-210922
  • Discussion with Shalini on 4 issues-20090616-154646
  • Discussion with Vinu-20090620-101652
  • Facts on NTPC clause-20090616-092341
  • Ganu- Govt planning ordinance on Gas price-20090616-221644
  • Ganu-datacom-Tony dirty tricks-20090613-124817
  • Ganu-Discussion on para 311 n 316-20090630-215445
  • Ganu-dump ET Now-Tony monitoring-20090709-223631
  • Ganu-EGoM on SEZ n KG Gas to be reconstituted-20090628-215204
  • Ganu-Final say is PM-20090630-220548
  • Ganu-Intellectual discussion on Gas-20090629-223601
  • Ganu-large SEZ meeting-20090618-175851
  • Ganu-needs panel for budget discussion-20090616-103258
  • Ganu-Rahul is not doing story in ET-20090705-101150
  • Ganu-upset over GVK story not on first page-20090707-224120
  • Gas incl prospective- FM-20090706-212605
  • Historic meet-20090625-122953

About fixing a meeting between Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata

  • Imp with journo on all four issues -20090616-143948

NR talking to R. Sridharan, ET Now: "Mr Raja who's a friend of mine telling me that he's got a party to support...Tata's going to move against Raja also on Spectrum" plus a lot of talk on the gas issue

  • Imp- MK Vinu-20090709-084733
  • Imp- Vir Sanghavi note on judgement-20090616-151348

Vir Sanghvi asks for a briefing note from Radia so that he can do a column after hearing her complaints about the coverage in HT and Mint

  • Imp-ADA says give me money -20090707-161407

Discusses the Ambani brothers with Suhel Seth. [Aside: his dog's name is Google because he can find stuff others can't — because he's the one who's hidden it in the first place!] 

Suhel Seth:  One thing only between the two of us… If the older fellow has so much of an influence, how come the younger brother is able to do so much?

Niira Radia: Ya, last time huaa thaa naa Amar Singh ka nuclear deal ke baad… It was limited to the period of three to four months… when they gave support for the nuclear deal. So it was only limited in that period. And after that Amar Singh made sure that he did what he could… and even all ED inquiries against Anil Ambani have started again.

Suhel Seth:  Thank God!

Niira Radia: He has borrowed 10 billion dollars in two years.

Suhel Seth:  But wasn’t there something that apparently he had taken money against some foreign holding or some rubbish like that.

Niira Radia: Basically, he has played according to the sort of figures that have ..brought to us. He has already played around 40 thousand crores in the market and lost it. So he has to pay back and his balance sheet is showing a debt of 75 thousand crores. And unless he can bring in equity, which his brother won’t allow him to bring in because he has got the ROFR [Right Of First Refusal]… he can’t do anything. So he can only fight us in the court and through media, whatever he wants. So he is in a tight corner.

Suhel Seth:  My God, yaar.

Niira Radia: And this gas thing was nothing else… He is basically saying give me money.

Suhel Seth:  But the older fellow should not succumb.

Niira Radia: Nothing at all, he is very sure.

Suhel Seth:  They should really nail him.

Niira Radia: He is going to nail him now because he had enough of him.

Suhel Seth:  And plus he is no one’s friend.

Niira Radia: Ya, he is no one’s friend. You know, Suhail, all industry is on one side and Anil is on one.

Suhel Seth:  Ya, I was speaking at a function on June 30, I think at the HSBC thing, and we were together sitting at the same table. He was bitching… (inaudible).

Niira Radia: Yeah, he is back tomorrow in Delhi.

Suhel Seth:  Who?

Niira Radia: Sunil, no?

Suhel Seth:  Oh Sunil, ok I don’t know.

Niira Radia: He was also saying that he had enough of him. So everyone is on one side including the Tatas. Because Tata is also battling this issue out. And Anil is on one side. So maybe we should all be just together and put this misery to an end.

Suhel Seth:  Misery! I cannot even laugh!

Niira Radia: He is a misery, isn’t he?

  • Imp-AT&T-ICICI-Baiju-20090707-095635
  • Imp-Journos-20090708-211016

M.K. Venu, then with ET

  • Imp-Shorie RSabha-Gas exemption-20090709-093149

About how Venkaiah Naidu might be more amenable as BJP's first speaker rather than Arun Shourie in starting the Rajya Sabha debate as then he would have to follow Venkaiah's line and not deviate too much from it

  • IMP-Shrinath-CNBC Tata story-RCOM stake selling AT&T-AJ-Unitech-20090613-105849
  • Imp-Subjective Order-All matters-20090616-174916
  • Inderjit's article hurt MDA-20090610-175013

Senthil Chengalvarayan of Network 18 discussing apology for Forbes editor Indrajit Gupta's piece on Mukesh Ambani's children. In the July 3 edition of Forbes, the following apology was eventually published:

“In our issue dated June 19, 2009 under the heading Self-Reliance, we published a snippet stating that Isha and Akash, children of Mukesh Ambani, would be accompanied by a mini-entourage of three servants when they proceed to Yale for their undergraduate studies. The same piece went on to state and imply that Isha and Akash had not been admitted on merit but that Mukesh Ambani had, by improper means and use of his influence, secure their admission to Yale.

“We had published the report based on information that we had believed to be reliable.

“We have, however, subsequently ascertained and now recognise that there was no foundation to these allegations and we sincererely regret that they were ever made. We are happy to take the earliest opportunity of correcting our error and expressing to Mukesh Ambani and his children Isha and Akash our regret and embarrassment caused to them by publishing the original snippet.

 “Similarly we also regret any references that were made to Yale University and its officials in the original snippet.”

  • Instigating ShivSena-Power distribution issue-20090611-211917

"You're going to have the Shiv Sena after you next."

"That's what's going to happen, because they went after them, so you're going to have the same Shiv Sainiks coming after you saying you can't do that." …

"I'll see how I can use the other group to get a message across to Uddhav, in order to say ke go after them instead."...

"I'll tell them to tell Uddhav to go after them."

  • IS-20090619-193735
  • Itinerary of ADA-20090708-092554
  • Javed ki leli-Shun CNBC-20090613-133131

"Senthil and Rahul Joshi dono ki le lii" [took their trip] and that she has asked for the apology to her repeated every one hour, the way they had carried the story on her [which they presumably had got wrong]

  • Job loss-20090705-155517
  • Journos to SC -20090706-101828
  • Judgement Day -Manoj-20090615-104953
  • Judgement Day- just after-20090615-105522
  • Judgement Day- Manoj Detailed-20090615-113141
  • Judgement Day- Manoj-20090615-113801
  • KR Raja-Understanding gas pricing-20090616-093209
  • Letter for economic survey-20090702-140353
  • Letter to Govt -20090702-140353
  • Lobbying Tata Power against ADAG-20090706-120212
  • Making public opinion agnst Judgement-20090616-155406

"Getting the public opinion against this judgment now becomes very important"

  • Manish Banalore-work on 4 issues-20090616-145627
  • Manoj on Vir's Article20090620-225323

Discuss an article that Vir Sanghvi's written

  • Manoj-editorial strategy-20090616-202053
  • MDA -20090706-215533

Short call from MDA: apparently about the ministry [finance] confirming that [perhaps an earlier discussed] issue is only relevant for the NELP bid

  • Meeting NK n Sharad Yadav-20090601-133613
  • Menon SC Caveat-3G SS-AT&T-20090619-225909
  • Mittal-MDA-RT lobby-AT&T denial-20090709-174939
  • MM n Barkha -20090709-161411
  • MM wants apology from Inderjit-20090610-231234

[See above for Inderjit's article hurt MDA-20090610-175013"]

MM: "agar Mukesh pe personal attack karegaa to mai Manoj Modi huuN, chhoRuuNgaa nahii"

NR: "inko itnii himmat nahii hai apne editors ko handle karne kii"

[Had a three hour meeting with ET. "Rahul is literally on his knees to Anil... but they are considering"]

MM: "ek hii aadmii ko apne ko protect karne kaa hai aur wo hai Mukesh Ambani"

"I have not seen Mukesh in such anguish and pain before... Mukesh has said, "take firm action to whatever extent possible""

MM: "We will file libel suit, we will file criminal case...Police-wolice aayegii pakReNge inko... dekheNge, hamko 10-20-50 crore kharchhaa ho jaaye...isme to thiik se pilaanaa hai mereko paanii"

  • MM's PR with 9X, NDTV, CNBC- Seturaman-20090708-224211
  • MM-on judgement-20090615-111309
  • MWarrier-Exploration-strategy to counter press campaign-20090601-124117
  • Natasha for Neeta-20090601-113037
  • Need to shake up team-20090602-090713
  • Neeta-Shobha De Interview 11-188819-0-30-20090531-144516
  • PMS-M Agrawal's ticker removed-20090707-123710
  • PMS-Mahesh Agrawal is lying-20090707-122826
  • Pre SLP Daljeet-20090703-132153
  • pressurising ET-30-20090705-101150
  • Rahul ET-disc on 4 issues-20090616-135441
  • Rajdeep- MM visits IBN-20090707-162552
  • Rakesh- Power distribution-Job offer-Tata stake selling20090613-135627
  • Rashmi-argument on Tata Bharti talks rumor-20090611-161639
  • RatnamDMK-work not done-20090613-114740
  • Satyam Board mmbrADA trying to manage Azagiri thro' Raja-20090709-091544
  • See how Tony works-20090602-085554
  • Some imp advisor from Tata-20090616-135007
  • Some IS-20090706-185337
  • Some sir writing an article-20090705-125752
  • Some Sir wrote article-20090705-125752

Both are the same conversation. NR is apparently asking for an article against RLNR petition and that "Rohit" would provide the information and the person she's talking to says he "can't write an article on an issue which is before the Supreme Court" but that he has written an article that would be published under Pratap Narayan's name and that he would pass it on, that he doesn't trust email and he would rather go over to the person's house, that the person stays in Friends Colony.  

  • Spectrum talk-PBajpai-AT&T-20090708-105509
  • Sr Journo-Post budget-20090707-103320
  • Story did not come finally-20090708-093916
  • Sukukumar- Mint-20090709-210126
  • Sunday after SLP-20090705-102437
  • Sunil Arora-note on AI-20090708-084432
  • Sunil Jain's article- no head or tail -20090622-102104
  • Sunil- HC Judges on various issues-20090616-154243
  • Sunil- HC- Corruption-20090620-141213
  • Tarun Dass -20090704-202152
  • Tarun Dass meeting PM on AirIndia-20090708-092726
  • Tarun on Sunil, MDA, RNT-20090612-125256
  • Tarun-AI-Batting for Jadhav-20090708-085321
  • Tata writing to Power Ministry-20090708-111257
  • To Rakesh- Govt is respondet-20090707-185151
  • Upendra- AI story-20090620-202732
  • Vinu perhaps-All issues-mainly spectrum-20090616-195137
  • Vinu-article on national assets-20090622-081358
  • Vinu-fudged RCOM figs-gas-Curse on AmarSingh-20090616-200515
  • Vir-his letter-MDA interview-20090620-120959

Discusses with Vir Sanghvi a fully scripted interview with MDA as he doesn't want to do an extempore. VS points out how MDA has nothing to be embarrassed about unlike his brother ADA who has many skeletons in his closet.

Also discusse a future counterpoint article:

VS: 'What kind of a story do you want? Can't seem too slanted but it can get all the points out that you want'

  • Warrier- Vir to interview MDA-20090602-085049

Discusses a MDA interview with Vir Sanghvi: 'we can get all the questions we want'

  • Whose gas is it anyway-20090706-104041  

Also See: Vir Sanghvi's response on his blog

  • Web Editor's note: In his response Mr Sanghvi only refers to his August 15 piece but there was one on June 20 which is relevant and is discussed here by Ms Radia and her colleague Manoj

Two of the Rata Tata files which were earlier in this list have now been grouped together with the other Ratan Tata file here:The Ratan Tata, Barkha Dutt & Other Tapes


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