How Ananth Kumar danced to Niira Radia’s tunes

A 2003 Lankesh Patrike picture showing then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee calling on Pejawar Swami (seated), with Niira Radia in tow

Every good scandal deserves to be immortalised between covers, and Niira Radia, the star of the 2G spectrum allocation scam, gets her due through a new book, “Close encounters with Niira Radia“, by the controversial lawyer and former parliamentarian, R.K. Anand.

Anand, who was stung by NDTV in the BMW hit-and-run case while trying to influence witnesses, gets his revenge through Radia, who coincidentally counted NDTV Imagine among her clients.

Edited by former India Today executive editor Inderjit Badhwar and published by Har-Anand publications, Close encounters with Niira Radia promises to be a “dramatic tell-all account by India’s top criminal lawyer of the character and con games of the corporate lobbyist whose activities have shaken India’s power class”.

In reality, it is little but a collation of reports and analyses on a “sprightly, bubbly and vivacious woman who at the age of 35 burst on to India’s political and business centre stage in the form of a whirling diva and whose every fervid gyration spun a web of cunning, duplicity and intrigue, ensnaring a veritable who’s who of those who run this nation’s business, political and journalistic empires.”

But the book does have its moments, and one of them is Niira Radia’s alleged proximity to the Karnataka BJP leader and former Union civil aviation minister, Ananth Kumar, which reportedly had his wife Tejaswini Ananth Kumar running to the doorstep of prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

***

By R.K. ANAND

“During 1996-97, I used to get medicines for my wife from the United States and Niira Radia was always a great help making arrangement for the safe transport of these life-enhancing drugs through her client, KLM. Niira had become a sister to me and I began treating her as one.

“The links between us grew stronger when she shifted her residence to a farm house near mine. As a neighbour, her visits became even more frequent.

“We chatted on just about every subject. But underlining all our bonversations was Niira’s emphasis on becoming the most successful businesswoman in India. She was driven by this motivation.

“It became obvious to me that she was going in for a big kill. What exactly that would be, I could not fathom. But it would be big or nothing at all. At that time I had no idea that she would spread her wings into the political arena to satisfy her craving for business and power.

“So it came as a shock to me when I discovered, one day, when visiting her farmhouse, dancing closely with NDA minister Ananth Kumar to western ballroom music….

***

“Niira always thought big. She was not satisfied with piddling assignments. Her ultimate ambition was to start her own airline. To achieve this target she needed the help of the new aviation minister, Ananth Kumar, who was a member of Parliament from Karnataka.

“No longer a stranger to the ways of Delhi and the art of cosying up to the high and mighty through a liberal use of contacts, name dropping, and invitations and parties, Niira had wasted no time in getting on the inside track with Ananth Kumar from his early days as minister.

“The BJP’s return to power in 1999 as well as Ananth Kumar’s regaining his former portfolio allowed her to continue to fly loftily in the aviation skies.

“She also had an added advantage. She knew more about the aviation industry than half of Ananth Kumar’s own top bureaucrats. Ananth Kumar, himself a neophyte, a rookie minister in the NDA government, found in Niira a good teacher about the intricacies, pitfalls and vicissitudes of the powerful aviation sector.

“Needless to say, he was also smitten by the femme fatale who was now so sure of her magic with men.

“She did not hide her closeness to him. Friends often saw them together at Sudesh Farm, Asola, in Delhi, where Niira was still living with Rao Dheeraj Singh – a former Sahara executive.

***

“Niira had her sights set. At whatever the cost, she wanted to sell helicopters to the governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka, Ananth Kumar’s home-state. With his help, she managed to clinch the deal for the two state governments.

“The hefty commissions she received went into Niira’s London and Channel Island accounts, recalls her partner Singh.

“The next window of opportunity for Niira as she continued to pursue her dream of conquering the skies by becoming an airline magnate was the air show in Bangalore….

“Niira like a female version of Icarus, had already begun spreading her wings. She was determined to influence the Indian government to buy aircraft from Airbus. She knew from her deep knowledge of governmental decision-making in this area that a new acquisition policy for fleet enhancement and acquisition for Indian Airlines and Air India was in the offing.

“From Ananth Kumar she learned that the process would be fast-tracked for both the flagship domestic and international carriers…. So persistent was her interference in the affairs of Indian Airlines, that the manging director P.C. Sen objected to her meddling. Niira’s benefactor, Ananth Kuamr, responded by removing Sen from that post.

“During the time that the aircraft acquisition policy was being changed Niira was a frequent visitor to Ananth Kumar’s official rsidence at 10, Prithviraj Road. According to intelligence reports, Niira and Ananth Kumar frequently travelled abroad.

“Ananth Kumar was actually a country bumpkin—a hayseed as the Americans put it—who learnt sophistication and speech and social graces from Niira. If the roles in Pygmalion had been reversed Ananth Kumar would have been Eliza Doolittle and Niira Henry Higgins.

“The upshot of this courtship was that as aviation minister Ananth Kumar changed the acquisition policy to favour Airbus on the specious ground that Indian Airlines and Air India no longer needed large capacity long-range airplanes but rather only short capacity long-range ones—which the Boeing company was not manufacturing.

“The deal roughtly worth Rs 22,000 crore at a 10 per cent commission would work out to a windfall of Rs 220 crore for Niira.

***

“But the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. The BJP government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee fell short of acquiring a confidence vote in Parliament and came tumbling down. New elections were called.

“Niira and her accomplices worked round the clock to ensure BJP’s return to power—especially return of Kumar to this portfolio as aviation minister. There was too much work to be done, pending contracts to be signed.

“Apart from the Airbus deal, one other pending project during this corresponding period was the construction of an up-to-date flying school. Singh was in charge of this project. The deal had been finalised between Radia and Ananth Kumar.

“Ananth Kumar’s role as minister was to ensure that the Airport Authority would provide the entire Mysore airfield at a nominal lease amount and obtain the mandatory clearance from the government of Karnataka… Ananth Kumar deputed no less a person than his own private secretary, Krishna Kumar, to help break the ice with local officialdom.

“Meanwhile, elections were in full swing and, according to Rao Dheeraj Singh, sacks of money were delivered in Bombay, Bangalore and Delhi by Niira to finance the re-election and comeback of Ananth Kumar to his former portfolio.

“The money was collected mostly by Ananth Kumar’s confidant and officer on special duty, one Diwakar.

***

“Kumar made a comeback to his portfolio when the BJP returned to power after the election in a coalition called the NDA. But his tenure was short-lived and he could not deliver on the deals he had made with Niira.

“The problem was that his association with Niira had taken the colour of a scandal, and Ananth Kumar’s wife Tejaswini made a personal complaint to prime minister Vajpayee. The PM promptly re-assigned Ananth Kumar to the culture and youth affairs and sports ministry.”

(Excerpted from Close encounters with Niira Radia, by R.K. Anand, editor Inderjit Badhwar, Har-Anand publications, pp 326, Rs 595)

***

Photograph: courtesy Gauri Lankesh

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25 Responses to “How Ananth Kumar danced to Niira Radia’s tunes”

  1. mussanje_maatu Says:

    finally here its open now….BJP has contributed more than congress for the growth of Nira Radia..and these BJP jokers in parliament are acting as if they were Mr.Clean… The only regret BJP has is they missed chance to make money in 2G and CWG….But this is being compensated by our great ben ali Yeddy by looting our state and there are the people in saffron dress comparing him to Great Basavanna….I am totally ashamed that my community people are behaving this way. At this stage Congress is corrupt…If BJP was at power during this time it would have been Most Corrupt.

  2. Mysore Peshva Says:

    Ananth Kumar, always the slimeball, should be arrested and tried for treason.

  3. vinay Says:

    ROFL…cant imagine AK dancing to a ball room tune :))))))

  4. mounaprasad Says:

    This Ananth kumar (aka Junior Narasimha Raju) from karnataka should be investigated and brought to book. For all his protestations of being a honest politician, this guy is a crook par excellence. In what capacity did Nira influence the decisions in his ministry has to be made public. Ananthu was busy flirting with Nira and dancing to her tunes. He was a disaster in the Aviation ministry and a bigger disaster as a youth and sports minister. Apparently, he is the blue eyed boy of Hajvani.

  5. Gouri Satya Says:

    Interesting and revealing. No wonder too!

  6. mounaprasad Says:

    Also when we are at it, the other wheeler dealer of NDA, Late Pramod Mahajan’s omissions and commissions as a minister needs some scrutiny.

  7. Doddi Buddi Says:

    I completely agree with Mysore Peshavan. Ananth Kumar is a disgrace!

  8. Goldstar Says:

    Money and sex have no idealogy… Congress, DMK, BJP all the same.

  9. renuka prasad Says:

    Anantkumar is a thandi bitchhu (cold scorpio), he bites without even the victim knowing sting piercing the skin of with pain. Yeddy had got good food to corner thandi bitchhu by K. Anand’s revealation. Kudos to Anand!!!

  10. Shiva Says:

    Anantkumar dancing to western ballroom music….??? Huh! I really am finding it hard to imagine . :D

    Anyway he never looked like a saint. Always cunning.

  11. VaSu Says:

    @Goldstar :Thats how Radhika reached kummi-di.ke.shi-S.lad-kummi

  12. G Says:

    ಕಾಮಾತುರಂ ನಾ ಲಜ್ಜಂ ನಾ ಭಯಂ

  13. 'mudi'malnad Says:

    What a waste of talent and change in personality. He never touched single paise when he was in ABVP/RSS( though he had money at his disposal).
    If my memory is right, he was one of the leaders heading the agitation to suspend/punish Ravi Belagere in Bellary (for his infamous bellary college incidence)

    what a fall from RSS(rashtriya) Organiser to RSS (Radia) organriser.

  14. Kitapati Says:

    mounaprasad
    “This Ananth kumar (aka Junior Narasimha Raju) from karnataka ”
    Please do not insult our kannada charlie chaplin by comparing him with a corrupt politician like ananthu.

  15. 'mudi'malnad Says:

    @Kitapati,
    Just for FYI,
    Charlie had four wives( three of them were teenagers)
    Narasimha Raju, ( Ask Film journalists of 70-80’s re: Kalpana & others)
    Dwarakish, officially lives with “two” wives in HSR layout.

  16. Sureshh Says:

    Any issue is best viewed when you get deeper into the vortex of things. But this is far from achieved by Mr. R.K. Anand who has authored a book titled “Close encounters with Niira Radia”. From the various reviews online it seemed that Anand had been following Radia quite closely over years. But in reality, as you leaf through the pages of the real book, things turn out to be totally different. This morning, ‘flipkart’ delivered the book by R K Anand on Niira Radia and I went through it. The book was promoted by a website firstpost.com which got me interested. But on receipt of this book, I realised I have completely wasted my Rs.500 odd for a trash cheap copy of already published transcripts of those phone conversations – cum – gossip and some unvalidated claims made by criminals like Rao Dheeraj Singh, who has spent considerable time at Tihar Jail !! And isn’t the author, R K Anand, the same lawyer who has been reprimanded by the Hon’ble High Court for his role in the BMW case? I am also surprised that reputed media house such as TV18 network can promote corrupt and questionable people like R K Anand and help in maligning individuals who haven’t been charged by the law of the land.

    I wonder, what is the fault of this Niira Radia that our system is encouraging corruption, violating basic human rights & dignity and impacting individual civic rights? And yet we like to call ourselves as educated, cultured and sympathetic human beings. This is nothing but a complete two-faced act of the system that we, as law abiding citizens should question and try and expose the duplicity of corrupt lawyers, their henchmen and motivated media.

    On this note, I have a simple advice for Ms. Radia. Please don’t accept this character assassination with your dignified silence. Please drag people like R. K. Anand and even media satraps like Raghav Behl of network TV 18 to Human Rights Commission, who have started taking advantage of their positions of power to harass people to their some surreptitious advantage . They should be taught a lesson. They should be also tried at the people’s forum because one side of any coin does not give you a complete perspective and it is not only Radia’s right but it is even the right of any Indian on the street to know whether justice is really been done or somebody with vested interest is taking “justice” for a ride.

  17. sohini Says:

    what nonsense!! people write whatever they want without giving any thought to what is right and what is wrong. i havent read the book, but whatever i have read on this blog, is enough to put me off. anyone, who is upto date with current affairs is aware of R K Anand’s ill reputation. He is a scoundrel of the first order and can stoop very low for money. i dont find it surprising that he decided to write this book which stinks of jealousy, intention to malign and perhaps even find a way to vent his own frustration of his failed attempts to woo a woman. I think this is case of grapes are sour and he decides to try his hand at writing cheap fictions and make money, as he fully aware that as a lawyer he is FINISHED. Cheee….I hated myself to even read the story..as a woman, how can anyone support a man taking advantage by selling her dignity? What cock & bull story has he written? trust Churmuri to promote his book. Very very disappointing.

  18. Siddharth Says:

    I agree with suresh that self proclaimed staraps like RK Anand must be dragged to the court. They are nothingThe sudden interest in writing a book on Nira Radia is unfathomable. RK Anand but a social menace worse than any of the corrupt politicians. The maligning stories against Nira Radia are largely being lsited out by people who have spread some time in Tihar Jail. It seems a coterie of ex-Tiharis are trying to pursue their own agenda against her. How is it that in last 10 years when she ran a successful business empire no one had any such thing to say. Is it some dirty way of taking revenge on a peron who has fought a fair battle with them in the past?

  19. N.R.Ramapriya Says:

    It is amusing to read about the extra martial affairs of Ananth kumar and Nira radia. I can’t beleive that Ananth kumar , a middle class brahmin and a hard core RSS man can stoop to such a level to put the interest of his family and the nation at stakes . I feel Ananthkumar, if he is not guilty, need to file a defamation case against the advocate Anand to set the matter straight and clear in the minds of all those who have high regard for him as an honest politician

  20. Ganesh Says:

    Its like film story scripted and actor and actresses acted.
    Most of the politicians and bureaucrats are thick skinned and they indulge in this kind of illegitimate relationship and nepotism is practised by them.

    God only can save this country from clutches of shady politicians and bureaucrats and also businessman

  21. Amit Baruah Says:

    I agree with Suresshh, and others who are of the opinion that Niira Radia is a saint. What is the fault of people like her or A Raja, Suresh Kalmadi, Madhu Koda, and many other corrupt people. They only exploited a corrupt system. Why blame them? I have not read the book not do I want to but what’s wrong with one thief writing about another. Let them sort it out. Why are we getting moralistic about it.

    Radia too has used the media before to ruin reputations. Go through the tapes and you will realise it. Sureshh: If you made an ass of yourself by buying that crap then its your mistake but don’t try to portray Radia as some kind of a saint.

  22. Ganesh Says:

    All corrupt persons talk and behave like saints, moreover they preach to others about the morals of life but they themselves practice and behave in immoral way. Before a decade it was easy to distinguish the bad and good guys, now most of the Goonda’s are white collared sobered guys.
    Sophisticated, technosavvy and educated person have changed the complete criminal world and giving tough time to Investigating agencies……….

  23. Prashant Goudar Says:

    True Mr Amit. I fully agree with you. If people like Suresh have wasted money on such book, let them keep themselves away from this introspection on rooting out corruption. We all are victims of the mega scams stem from the misdeeds of Niira Radia. AK is not clean > I am aware. Becoz, when he was union urban devp minister, he had 4 PAs and all of them have establsihed big industries today. He looted HUDCO. Just imaging the Congres had disbursed loan to the tune of Rs 400 Crores , whereas during the tenure of AK the disbursal has touched Rs 40,000 Crores. Just imaging the share of AK in this.

  24. Prasanna Says:

    It would be wonderful if we can have a picture of this country bumpkin dancing to western classical music!

  25. Wishu Says:

    Not surprised, RK Anand, the disgressed Congi MP, who was caught taking bribe. The book has to be full of lies, afterall what else a fraudster can tell us in his book. One photo and couple of lies does not mean anything, u congis.

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