Maran’s abrupt end as minister, second time over (Profile)

July 7th, 2011 - 7:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 7 (IANS) Better known as the corporate face of the DMK, 44-year-old Dayanidhi Maran, grand nephew of its chief M. Karunanidhi, may not have entered politics if his father had not died in 2003.

He was comfortably ensconced in his family’s enterprise, which has interests in a wide variety of areas including a bouquet of television channels, programming, direct-to-home satellite service, films and now even an airline after buying SpiceJet.

But destiny had something different in store for Dayanidhi, a two-term member of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, representing the prestigious Central Chennai constituency in the Tamil Nadu capital.

After father Murasoli Maran died in 2003, Karunanidhi himself wanted his millionaire grand nephew to enter politics.

Thanks to this patronage, the young Maran became a minister — that too with a cabinet rank — in his very first term as a lawmaker.

It was during his tenure as communications minister between May 26, 2004 and May 13, 2007 that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) now says there were questionable actions by him which eventually led to his exit from the cabinet Thursday.

This was the second time, though, that Dayanidhi had to resign from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet.

In 2007, a family row with the Karunanidhis over the contents of an opinion poll published in a newspaper suddenly soured relations between the Maran brothers and the Karunanidhi family.

The “Dinakaran” said the opinion poll showed that M.K. Stalin, the younger son of Karunanidhi, was better suited over his older son M.K. Azhagiri — or for that matter his daughter Kanimozhi — to succeed as the DMK chief.

Workers allegedly close to Azhagiri vandalized the properties from which Dinakaran operated. Without mincing words, Karunanidhi called the report mischevous and said it had hurt the party’s image.

Dayanidhi had to quit.

His close equation with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who had become rather fond of this modern and media savvy politician, could not save him.

Dayanidhi did his schooling from the natty Don Bosco school in Chennai, graduated in economics from the Loyola College in the same city, and has a doting wife, Priya, a son, Karan, and a daughter, Divya.

But his extended family links perhaps did him in, again.

The Sun TV group, though, has officially communicated that the younger Maran does not own a single share in any of these firms. The enterprise is run by his elder brother Kalanidhi.

According to the CBI, Dayanidhi allegedly created a situation forcing a non-resident entrepreneur, Sivasankaran, to sell his stake in his telecom company Aircel to Malaysia’s Maxis group.

Maxis, considered close to the Marans, allegedly bought 74 percent stake in Aircel after which it was allotted more circles to operate its telecom services in the country.

Maxis also allegedly invested around Rs.600 crore in Sun’s DTH project.

All these were being alleged in whispers earlier. But when the CBI told this to the apex court, Dayanidhi’s days as minister were limited. His party chief too did not waste time, asking Maran to quit — again.

Already, two of Dayanidhi’s party colleagues — his successor in the communications ministry A. Raja and Rajya Sabha member and Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi — have been arrested for their alleged roles in the second generation (2G) spectrum case.

Dayanidhi has maintained that he has done no wrong and he never mixed his political and family (read corporate) interests. An avid shooter, his shot at innocence this time will be decided in a legal and not a family court.

(Arvind Padmanabhan can be contacted at arvind.p@ians.in)

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