After a meeting with DMK chief M Karunanidhi, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday said the arrest of Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum case would not have any impact on the ties between the two parties but insisted that the government would not interfere in the case.
“All these on-goings have no effect on DMK-Congress alliance and in future also it will have no effect,” the Union minister told reporters after meeting Karunanidhi.
He said Congress president Sonia Gandhi is concerned about Kanimozhi being in jail and he expressed sympathies with the DMK over the issue.
“Our leader Sonia Gandhi is concerned because Kanimozhi being a woman is in jail and it is a matter of concern and the fact is that one cannot do anything,” Azad said.
He, however, clarified that the government would not interfere in the legal process.
Azad, who is also Congress in-charge of Tamil Nadu, maintained that Karunanidhi understands that the Supreme Court is directly monitoring the 2G spectrum case and the government has no role in it.
“Karunanidhi is a man of political standing and also a man of political understanding. He knows well that the Supreme Court is monitoring and a special court is looking into it. He also knows the opinion of the Government of India as it is not interfering in any cases, including the (Suresh) Kalmadi case,” he said.
“I am happy Karunanidhi understands it all…. Congress has no role to play here (in the case),” Azad said, adding that Karunanidhi knows the circumstances and the prevailing situation and the role of law agencies in the matter.
Later, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan met Karunanidhi.
She told reporters after the meeting that the ties between Congress and DMK were the same.
“The DMK has said that it will fight the case legally. I met him (Karunanidhi) as a courtesy,” she said.
Natarajan said Karunanidhi told her that Kanimozhi was fine and she is prepared to fight the case legally.
Home minister P Chidambaram and minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office M Narayansamy had met Karunanidhi on Monday to discuss the issue.
Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, finally reacting to the arrest of DMK president M Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi in connection with the 2G spectrum scam, said people’s faith in judiciary has been restored.
“All that I would like to say is that finally the law is taking its course. Action is being taken according to the law. After a long time people of this country have began to regain faith in the judicial process. People’s faith in the judicial system has been restored”, she said, replying to queries in her weekly briefing of the press.
To a question on reports that Kanimozhi had cited her gender as grounds for bail plea in the court, Jayalalithaa said that her argument was wrong. “In politics, you cannot expect any concession to be shown because you are woman…Similarly, where criminal aspects are concerned you cannot expect leniency because you are a woman”.
Reacting to a television interview of former LTTE chief arms procurer K Padhmanathan, who had reportedly said LTTE tried several times unsuccessfully to assassinate Jayalalithaa, the chief minister said “I have been living with death threats since 1991”.
To KP’s remarks that the DMK ideology had influenced the LTTE to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi, she said “That has been the basic charge since a long time. We always said that the DMK was behind the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in an indirect way”.
The Hasan Ali case gets curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say.
Every few days, the IT guys keep upping the tax dues of the Pune-based stud farm owner. Recently they added penalty and made it a nice round figure of Rs 100,000 crore. So you now have one lakh crore of tax dues and they still don’t know where the money in his Swiss bank accounts came from. Meanwhile, rumours fly fast and furious. Some say the billions belong to a powerful Maharashtra politician who is everyone’s pet target these days. Others say it belongs to a Tamil Nadu politician currently out of power. There are also dark whispers that it belongs to an Andhra politician who passed away sometime back. While Ram Jethmalanai alleges dramatically in court that it leads all the way to the very top. The general consensus is that it belongs to many politicians and businessmen, and Hasan Ali is just a banker for them. The list includes even Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, once touted as the richest man in the world. But whoever the money belongs to must be so powerful that Hasan Ali, even in custody, refuses to sing. No one has managed to get the slightest clue from him as to where the billions came from.
By all accounts, Hasan Ali has beaten the late Harshad Mehta to the highest tax defaulter stakes. One lakh crore is no laughing matter, particularly when it’s based on conjecture and vague insinuations. For, as on date, there’s nothing proved against Hasan Ali nor his charming second wife Rheema, against whom the investigating agencies are now plotting to move, in the hope they can use her to prise open the dark secrets behind their Swiss bank accounts. Even the Supreme Court last month queried the State as to why enough is not being done to find out more about his unexplained transactions. Custodial interrogation hasn’t helped either. The main question remains unanswered: Does the money belong to Hasan Ali? If so, where did he get it from and for what services rendered? It’s a tidy sum, $8 billion in cash in Swiss banks and no one quite knows where it came from, what it was paid for, who paid it and why.
The actual tax claim against Hasan Ali, excluding penalty and interest, is reportedly Rs 72,000 crore, enough to provide drinking water to India’s six lakh villages. Yet no action has been taken to clear the mystery behind the man and his funny money. It’s funny money because, till date, there’s simply no evidence, certainly not in the public domain, that suggests Hasan Ali actually owns that $8 billion. The money could belong to anyone—and probably does.
The IT guys claim that any further delay and the matter can get time barred. This means the case has been going on for much longer than we know. Tax cases don’t get time barred easily. They take years to reach that stage. So, probably, someone has dragged his feet in this case either to protect Hasan Ali or protect those whose money he may be shielding. The delay may also be politically inspired, if it’s true that the money belongs to politicians. In fact, if it wasn’t for the courts, Hasan Ali would have been by now (like Q) a free man with nothing to hold him back except a long buried controversy.
Clearly, there appears to be a cover up somewhere. Yet I also believe the man when he says he fears for his life. We saw how the key witness for the 2G case, Sadiq Batcha mysteriously died on the very day he was planning to turn approver and spill the beans. The doctor who gave his post mortem report, calling it a case of suicide, is now an election candidate. He resigned from his job the very next day. A coincidence? Possibly. Hasan Ali, whatever may be his crime, is clearly in a dangerous space ever since he sent out a small slip of paper to a news reporter saying he fears he may be killed before the actual facts of the case emerge. Does that mean he wants to sing but is not being allowed to?
Before we judge Hasan Ali, our first job is to protect him. Most such cases in India never get solved because someone or the other, the villain or the victim or the key witness, gets bumped off during investigations. There is convenience in sudden death. Those who know the facts are then too terrified to speak out and with no clearly identified villain to pursue, the media quietly sneaks away to hunt down new crimes. Let not Hasan Ali’s case go the same way. He may be a bad guy. But no bad guy, however smart, however well connected, gets $8 billion from nowhere in his Swiss bank accounts unless he is protecting someone who he believes is powerful enough to rescue him or dangerous enough to kill him if he speaks the truth.