The babu who holds scam key
As the Central Bureau of Investigations probes the 2G spectrum scam, one man in the eye of the storm is R K Chandolia, who used to be private secretary to former minister A Raja, and is now an economic advisor in the department of telecom. Rajesh Ahuja reports.delhi Updated: Nov 18, 2010 02:22 IST
As the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) probes the 2G spectrum scam, one man in the eye of the storm is R K Chandolia, who used to be private secretary to former minister A Raja, and is now an economic advisor in the department of telecom (DoT).
Sources said he has not been examined yet, but will soon be. Chandolia worked in Raja's office in January 2008, when the allotment of spectrum and licences began.
His association with Raja, however, had begun earlier -- when Raja was minister for environment in UPA-1.
Chandolia's name figured in the sensational conversations between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and various others, recorded by investigators. In the conversations, Radia allegedly discussed the allocation of 2G spectrum to a few operators.
It is alleged Chandolia played an important role in the allotment of 2G spectrum. His room in Sanchar Bhawan was allegedly the centre of all the activities that took place on January 10, 2008, the day DoT issued the controversial press release giving only 45 minutes to applicants to deposit licence fees, a move that is understood to have favoured a select number of companies.
Chandolia's examination can throw light on some mysteries of the process involved in the allocation of 2G spectrum. His examination is also crucial as far as allotment of licences to Unitech and Swan Telecom is concerned.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report has also raised questions about the allotment of licences to these two operators.
"If the CBI asks me, I will cooperate," Chandolia told HT.
"But nobody has called me yet."
He added as personal secretary to Raja, he had interacted with a lot of telecom players and had spoken to Radia who was representing Tata Tele Services.
Chandolia dismissed as 'ridiculous' the allegation that applicants had submitted their papers in his chamber on January 10 instead of going to the officers concerned.
A 1984 batch officer of Indian Economic Service, Chandolia was considered closest to Raja among the group of officers that ruled the roost in the department while Raja was minister.
According to sources, if Chandolia cooperates the CBI can get answers to many questions relating to the 2G spectrum allotment. The CBI has so far interviewed AK Srivastava, a deputy director general in DoT and former telecom secretary Siddartha Behura.
On Raja's resignation Chandolia said, "This is a political issue. I don't want to comment. Lots of things are in circulation. If I say anything it can be construed as a defence of Raja."
But he added as far as he knew, Raja never forced any bureaucrat to do anything. If he didn't agree with anything, he just made a file noting, which all ministers do.