Kanimozhi to be quizzed soon on 2G spectrum (Roundup)

March 10th, 2011 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) Kanimozhi, DMK MP and daughter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, will be questioned by the CBI before March 31 in connection with the allotment of 2G spectrum, well informed sources said Thursday, indicating that the party was being pulled in deeper into the corruption probe.

“Her questioning is imminent. Kanimozhi will be questioned before March 31,” a top Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official told IANS.

The official said the agency would question her about the flow of over Rs.200 crore from Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa’s DB Realty firm to Kalaignar TV, a regional Tamil channel in which Karunanidhi’s family members have a majority stake. Kanimozhi is said to have 20 percent stake in the TV channel.

Balwa is amongst the four arrested, along with former communications minister and DMK MP A. Raja, in connection with the allotment of 2G spectrum. His Swan Telecom was allegedly favoured by Raja in the allocation of second generation (2G) spectrum licences.

The CBI is probing if there was any quid pro quo under which Balwa transferred funds to the TV channel and in return got 2G spectrum licences at throwaway prices.

CBI has been asked by the Supreme Court to file charges in the case by March 31 and sources said Kanimozhi’s examination is important for finalising the chargesheet.

The sources said the chief minister’s daughter might be interrogated in the Tamil Nadu capital. “Interrogating her in Delhi is a better option for us but if she wants to be questioned in Chennai she can take a final call on that,” said an official.

Officials ruled out questioning Karunanidhi’s second wife Dayalu Ammal as she is believed to be a “sleeping partner” in the channel and “won’t fetch any information”.

Sharat Kumar, managing director of Kalaignar TV, would also be questioned in the next couple of days. Kumar had denied the flow of funds from Balwa’s company after the agency searched his offices and residence in Chennai last month.

“We have seized some documents during the searches and have evidence to show something they cannot deny,” said the official.

With elections due next month, the timing of Kanimozhi’s interrogation is politically significant.

India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has just finalised its seat sharing agreement for the polls. The DMK had initially refused to set aside 63 assembly seats for the Congress in the state but was forced to relent.

Kanimozhi’s questioning may also give ammunition to DMK’s arch-rival Jayalalitha’s AIADMK to target Tamil Nadu’s first family in the campaign.

In a related development, CBI Director A.P. Singh Thursday appeared before parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is separately probing the money trail of the kickbacks allegedly paid by some telecom firms to get 2G spectrum licences at cheaper than market rates during Raja’s stint as the communications minister in 2008.

The chief of India’s premier investigating agency met PAC chief Murli Manohar Joshi in the Parliament House. Singh had appeared before the PAC last month also.

The PAC has so far had meetings with former telecom secretaries S.S. Behura and D.S. Mathur and former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman Pradip Baijal.

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