Friday, November 19, 2010



I found the transcripts of the taped telephone conversations of Nira Radia, an alleged lobbyist, with journalists Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi somewhat confusing. I got the impression that the person, who transcribed these conversations from the tapes, has done a bad job of it. The quality of the tapes was apparently not good. At many places, it was probably not clear what the dramatis personae were saying. He or she had, therefore, guessed it. It is my estimate that many of the words or phrases used in the transcripts are the guess-work of the person who transcribed the tapes. That is why, one finds many sentences, which are incomplete or confusing or both.

2. One cannot judge the accuracy of a taped telephone conversation unless one actually listens to the tape. Reading a text prepared by someone who had transcribed it can be misleading. Those, who had worked in technical intelligence divisions, will know that often there are gaps while transcribing and the transcriber makes up the gaps through guess-work.

3. Having said that, one can, without fear of going wrong, say that Nira Radia's main interest seemed to have been in ensuring that the DMK got important portfolios, including that of telecommunications and that Raja retained the telecommunications portfolio. It is also apparent that she was mainly interested in finding out what was going to happn to Raja. Her intererst in the other DMK personalities mentioned was minimal.

4.Her conversations with Barkha and Vir were about the likely allocations of portfolios and not about the interests of the various telecom companies in licenses. She was trying to find out from Barkha and Vir what was going to happen during the Cabinet formation and whether they could convedy a message to the Congress (I) and some of its personalities. The message that she was apparently trying to convey was that Dayanidhi Maran does not reflect the views of Karunanidhi as allegedly claimed by him.

5. As one reads the transcripts one gets an impression that Barkha and Vir were in the habit of listening to Radia's gossip about the DMK and humouring her in order to find out more. This does not amount to the journalists themselves indulging in lobbying.


ND said...

Exactly right Raman! I heard these tapes over and over again. All I could deduce was that these media people were "humoring" Nira Radia.

They were talking as all us media people do to extract information.

There are two things that I feel need to be highlighted in this controversy:

1) Neither Barkha nor Vir Sanghvi were talking as if they are being "paid" to do whatever Nira Radia wants. No money was changing hands.

Every single media person in India knows people like Nira who they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. And I doubt they talk in any different manner than these 2 are talking.

That veneer of "friendship" is something every journalist affects.

2) Second thing is: both this personalities are big names in Indian media. They have a reputation/image to live up to. I very much doubt that either of them would put their credibility at risk by printing something under their own by-line that will ruin that image. No successful person will tolerate their "intelligence" being denigrated like that. Certainly not high-profile ones like these two.

Small games, small breaking of rules, well that happens everywhere. Making a mountain of this silly little molehill is just that: sillly.

K..just K said...

if its baseless then why pindrop silence ? Air tapes at least those of Radia-Raja? The silence means something is fishy #Barkhagate

Ajith said...

Dear Sir,
In one of the conversations, Vir is heard as saying "so what do i say/ what do I tell them " is this fair in journalism? Or do journalists who are fair listen to all involved including lobbyists with an open mind and then write their own assessment
thank you

Broadway said...

The conversations are sometime after the 2009 elections and before the formation of the UPA coalition. Radia has good contacts who update her about every little thing.

Tape 1: Radia and barkha are talking about a fresh rift between DMK and UPA. This rift was caused by DMK member baalu who revealed to the media that DMK has withdrawn support to the UPA. This has angered manmohan singh. Barka asks radia for some suggestions to proceed further wrt congress. Radia tells barkha to convince the congress to talk to karunanidhi directly but in private because she claims that k-nidhi is intimidated by his partymen like baalu and maran. She suggests expulsion of baalu. The two then talk about cabinet seats. In the side, congress has said something about maran which radia points out. Barkha tells radia that NDTV has stopped airing that particular footage.

Tape 2: Radia tells barkha that congress(particularly, the PM) doesn't plan to give infrastructure portfolio to maran or baalu and that those two have been informed about it. But the two have withheld that particular info from k-nidhi. Radia tells barkha to instruct the congress to convey this withheld info to k-nidhi through kanimozhi. Barkha assures radia that she will meet gulam nabi azad(congress leader) at the PM's residence and tell him about what needs to be done. Kanimozhi tells radia that DMK partymen are no longer updating k-nidhi on the day to day events.

Tape 3: Barka has had long chats with unknown congress leaders. She tells radia that the congress is now ready to take maran, raja or whoever. The congress has promised barkha that they will send ghulam nabi azad to talk to the DMK men. Meanwhile, the DMK men are undermining k-nidhi orders again. K-nidhi's daughter, kanimozhi is the only one that follow his orders. She has been isntructed to leave the city @ 5pm. In tape 2, ghulam nabi azad is supposed to meet kanimozhi. Barkha calls azad and informs kanimozhis plans to leave the city.

Tape 4: Navika kumar on timesnow thinks that congress will not give anything to maran, raja and baalu. Barkha asks radia whether navika's assertions are true. Radia tells barkha that navika is wrong. They then talk about maran, raja and baalu on which cabinets they demand.

Tape 5: K-nidhi previously intructed dayanidhi not to attend the swearing in ceremony. Dayanidhi claims that congress leader ahmed patel had specially requested him to attend. Barkha privately enquires with patel about it but patel says that he never forwarded such a request. K-nidhi tells dayanidhi in his face to join congress. Dayanidhi does not attend.

captainjohann said...

These tapes are coming out now because there is a tug of war going on within Congress between Sonia and Manmohan supported by US business interests.Barkha dutt, Nira and Vir Sanghvi are all belong to US supported group and so the dirty linen is being washed now.In Tamilnadu with elections approaching and Karunanaidhi's innings about to end the Jockeying is going on.

ambi said...

we knew it barkha. we knew it all, without this proof. one day that another cartoon arundhati didi & medha patkar & company ll be exposed in the same way. who is next rajdeep & ashutosh. ha ha ha!!!

dont try to defend undefendable raman sir. She is our barkha. we know her very well.


Shiva Subramanian said...

Raman Sir, you have your gentlest and most velvet gloves on this time :-)))

notice how ndtv has tried to twist and obfuscate the Open magazine words. It looks clear enough to most. the lady journalist is acting as an info conduit, and the guy shows how the story will be scripted to touch all popular points, etc to maximize delivery effectiveness.

bottomline is that the 24x7 news channel system is unsustainable unless it resorts to sleeping with the ruling party.
what happened is an outrage that has to be condemned in the strongest terms. Outlook India, and other magazines are already taking the lead. We cannot let it go just like that. enough is enough.

Note: I am NOT a bjp supporter.

there is a dedicated web page to this scandal.

Twitter: #barkhagate


Guruprasad said...

This is awesome. Look at the jornalists holding each others hands. She was not lobbying but she was a middle(wo)man, which is very clear and was batting for a man who caused 1.2 Lakh crore to exchequer. If this is normal journalism, god save India. No money exchanged hands? May be ...but this is how they get PadmaSree...

Dinesh PC said...

How do you know money did not exchange hands? There may not have been any conversation on money exchanging hands on the tapes, does that mean absolutely no money got exchanged?

And B.Raman ji - extremely extremely disappointed with you this time. In the end, it is clear you are hand in glove with those who want to perpetuate maximum harm to the nation.

Mahesh said...

I have NO DOUBT about tapes and INVOLVEMENT OF BARKHA DUTT and VIR SANGHVI as they are in PAYROLL OF CONgress and their coverage is BIASED - pro-Congress AND ANTI BJP.
AT LAST they are caught with their pants (skirt) down and THEIR SILENCE ON THIS MATTER IS ITSELF SAYS A LOT.

shaan said...

Are you humoring us? No lobbyist will talk to a person unless they know that the person is involved in backstage dealings. Lobbyists are not that big idiots, neither are we.

shaan said...

The complete blackout of the Niira Radia tapes by the entire broadcast media and most of the major English newspapers paints a truer picture of corruption in the country than the talk shows in the various news channels and the breast-beating in all the newspapers about the 2G, CWG, Adarsh, and other scams....
But what is really scary is that, despite living in a 'democracy' that boasts of a 'free press', if you were dependant only on TV and the big newspapers for the biggest news developments of the day, you would never have known about the Niira Radia tapes, and the murky role of mediapersons as political power brokers. Indeed, the main source of information on this scandal has been online media, such as, various bloggers, and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and of course, the websites of Outlook and Open magazines....

walter said...

Poorly thought out and insufficiently researched blog post.

You don't think it is lobbying? It is now known that MMS and Sonia were reluctant to appoint A Raja as the telecom minister in UPA 2.

Niira Radia was lobbying for Karunanidhi to ensure that one of their ministers - Raja, Maran or Baalu got that cabinet berth.

Barkha is essentially a go-to person and an essential cog in the back and forth communications between Congress and the DMK. She knows it. Niira knew it. Ghulam Nabi Azad knew it. So there is no disputing the fact that not only did she have the resources to do what was asked of her, but in fact she actually did do the deeds asked of her.

You still don't see a conflict of interest here? The PM is trying to arrive at an essential policy issue - appointing someone to lead the ministry that is responsible for ensuring that the Indian telecom sector - the fastest growing in the world - stays and remains competitive. The appointment of a minister would clearly influence policymaking on key issues such as the issuing of licences for providing 2G and 3G services.

Barkha knew that her role in the process could and indeed did, influence the choice of the telecom minister.

Do you really expect us to be numbskulled idiots to believe that she would be oblivious of the obvious ramifications of her role in all this?

If I was asked to play an essential role in the appointment of any cabinet minister, I would be influencing the choice of the minister responsible for policymaking. Policies that as a journalist, I am supposed to scrutinise and judge.

You STILL don't see a conflict of interest Mr. Raman?!?!?

Horrible blogpost. Terrible, deceitful, sub-standard and misleading.

Please stick to intelligence matters. That's where your expertise lies.

Chinnamasti said...

Wow what a piece of strategic analysis. bravo for fighting for your creed. especially when they caught with their knockers down. Yeah we didn't see money change because you cant 'see' in a audio tape. You convince no one sir. people are discerning now. internet will prove the orwellian media and your silly analysis wrong.

Sucheta said...

"The tapes were not clear" says who? I heard it once and it waas crystal clear, there was no doubt on who was speaking what.. Burkha Dutt is known for her dishonest ways and she is clearly a GOTO person for any scam. Both Vir Sangvi and Barkha Dutt are scamsters of the worst grade. I am still puzzled how shameless can journos be...