New Delhi: Dismissing allegations that his family-owned Sun TV Network received pay-offs from an overseas firm, Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran on Wednesday said he had not favoured any particular company in granting UASL licence when he was Telecom Minister.

Maran, a DMK nominee in the Union Council of Ministers, also claimed that no telecom company has ever invested in companies owned by his brother and media baron Kalanidhi Maran during his tenure as Telecom Minister between May, 2004 to May, 2007.

"I vouch that during my tenure as Minister of Communications and IT, I was totally impartial in taking decisions. I have not favoured any company over others. Neither any applicant company was allowed to jump the queue in grant of UASL licences nor there was any loss to the exchequer," he said in a statement here.

The allegations are "totally untrue and malicious," he said.

Maran's statement came after Opposition parties like the BJP and AIADMK demanded his resignation in the wake of reports that Maran favoured Malaysia's Maxis group which had bought Chennai-based Aircel when he was Telecom Minister.

The Minister said only companies fulfilling all the required conditions were given Letters of Intent in their own turn.

"Even the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has not mentioned about this during my tenure," he said.

Maran said no telecom company "directly or indirectly had ever invested in any of the companies owned by my brother during my tenure as Telecom Minister." "I was not even a Minister, when M/s Astro invested in Sun Direct in December 2007 as I had resigned on May 13, 2007.

Needless to say, I own no shares or any fiduciary in any of these companies," he said in the statement.

Maran says he was not even a Minister when Malaysia-based Astro invested in family-owned Sun Direct in 2007.

No telecom company has ever invested in companies owned by my brother Kalanidhi Maran when I was Telecom Minister, says Maran.


Maran should resign, demands BJP

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday demanded that Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran quit the cabinet for alleged involvement in getting a 2G licence for private operator Aircel when he was telecom minister.

“He (Maran) should resign or the PM should sack him,” BJP spokesperson Jagat Prakash Nadda told reporters.

Nadda said the party had written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director asking it to clarify Maran's alleged role in a deal that Aircel struck with Malaysia's Maxis.

Maran held the telecom portfolio from May 2004 to May 2007.
 
According to the BJP, when he was telecom and IT minister, the foreign direct investment in the telecom sector was increased to 74 percent.

A recent report in Tehelka magazine claimed that Maran in 2006 deliberately delayed clearing the license to certain companies.

The report also said the delay pressurised Aircel to strike a deal with Maxis, which invested in the Maran family-owned Sun TV.


JPC should discuss my letters to PM


As parties demanded Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran's resignation following charges of reciving pay-offs in 2-G spectrum allocation, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury on Wednesday asked the JPC to circulate to its members his letters written to the Prime Minister on the issue since 2008.

"As these matters were brought to the attention of the Prime Minister from as early as February, 2008, it would help our investigation to ascertain what was the response or any follow up action," he said in a letter to Joint Parliamentary
Committee Chairman P C Chacko.

"With increasing media reports emerging on the alleged involvement of previous ministers for telecommunications like Dayanidhi Maran, the circulation of this material to the JPC (members) would, in my opinion, be helpful in our investigations," Yechury, himself a JPC member, said.

Reports said that Maran's family-owned Sun TV Network was a beneficiary of pay-offs by an overseas telecom firm.

Yechury said the Comptroller and Auditor General, in a presentation to JPC, had concluded that "the entire process of allocation of 2G Spectrum in January, 2008 lacked transparency and objectivity."

He said his first letter to the Prime Minister in February 2008 had also pointed towards this. The Left parties were then supporting the UPA-I government from outside.

"Yet I was constrained to write this letter because of the serious matters involved. This letter was written a few weeks after the Department of Telecom issued 121 licences on 10th January, 2008", the CPI(M) leader said.

While the second letter was addressed to the Prime Minister on November 18, 2008 "when further evidence of malpractices surfaced in the public domain", Yechury wrote the third letter on May 31, 2010.


"Clearly, the Prime Minister had forwarded this letter to the Minister for Telecommunications who replied to the points raised in my letter after 10 months, on March 18, 2011...This letter was dated after the constitution of this JPC to examine these matters," the CPI(M) leader said.

Observing that it was not clear whether the PMO had re-directed his earlier two letters to the Telecom Ministry, he said, "It would be useful for our consideration in the JPC to obtain the responses of the DoT to these letters.

"May I request you to kindly ascertain if such a communication between the PMO and the DoT took place on my first two letters and to obtain these details," Yechury said in the letter to Chacko, adding this "may assist our process of investigation that is currently underway."


Jayalalithaa demands Dayanidhi's resignation
 
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Wednesday said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should seek Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran's resignation after allegations that his official decisions as telecom minister had indirectly benefited his brother's company.

“The prime minister should ask for Dayanidhi Maran's resignation from the cabinet. I am sure the prime minister would have asked. Maran should resign and face the legal proceedings,” Jayalalithaa told reporters.
 
The opposition BJP has alleged that Sun TV Network belonging to Maran's brother Kalanithi Maran was an indirect beneficiary of the decisions taken by him during his tenure as union telecom minister. Maran held the post from May 2004 to May 2007.
 
According to BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad, Malaysian company Maxis Communication bought 74 percent stake in Aircel when Maran was the telecom minister and the company was later allotted more circles to operate. Maxis Communication through its subsidiary Astro invested around Rs.600 crore in Sun DTH belonging to Sun TV Network.
 
The BJP alleged there is a conflict of interest in the decisions taken by Maran during his tenure as telecom minister and the subsequent investment in a company owned by his brother.

Former Telecom Minister A Raja is in jail in connection with the 2G scam which relates to alleged irregularities in the allocation of spectrum to telecom companies when he was the telecom minister.
 
Referring to the AIADMK's promise of adding 5,000 MW of power, Jayalalithaa said there will be improvement in the power generation front in the state.
 
She said when AIADMK was in power from 2001-2006, the state was surplus in power and earned revenue selling power to other states. The installed generation capacity then was 10,111 MW and the generation was at full capacity.
 
“Everything changed when the DMK government came to power. The fall in power generation was due to large scale corruption resulting in the import of sub-standard coal, and lack of proper maintenance of power stations,” she said.
 
She said there were allegations that power generation was brought down in order to receive kickbacks from private generators while purchasing power.
 
“We will root out corruption in TNEB (Tamil Nadu Electricity Board),” she declared.
 
Asked about irregularities in the public distribution system (PDS), Jayalalithaa said: “Whenever AIADMK is in power there has never been a complaint about the PDS. It is only during the DMK government that complaints are there.”
 
Jayalalithaa's AIADMK led alliance was swept into power in Tamil Nadu last month, unseating the DMK-led front.

JPN/Agencies