Yesterday The Indian Express published a story on Essar Group’s ‘Lollypop’ Scam that allured politicians, bureaucrats and journalists with freebies to keep them on their side. Nitin Gadkari, the Union Transport Minister availed the Ruias’ hospitality by spending three nights on their private yacht off the coast of French Riviera but said that there was nothing wrong about it. Other politicians recommended people for jobs in the group’s various companies and see no wrong in doing that. Many journalists too enjoyed goodies from the Essar Group.
Reputed lawyer, Prashant Bhushan filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against all those favored by the Essar Group in the Supreme Court under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The PIL had names of three journalists too who had received favors from the Essar Group and they are Sandeep Bamzai of Mail Today, Anupama Airy of Hindustan Times and Meetu Jain of Times Now. Bamzai and Anupama have reportedly resigned since the PIL was filed but Meetu Jain did not. In fact she has been issued a ‘show cause’ notice by Times Now management. Meetu Jain was with the CNN-IBN when she allegedly took favors from the Essar Group.
Scribes have resigned immediately but the politicians, including the Cabinet Minister in the NDA Government are shamelessly going on with their life saying, “Ruias are my neighbor and one neighbor can always oblige another“. Poor scribes who took paltry favors like free cab rides or a mobile phone (though I don’t subscribe to such acts) have lost their jobs but politicians holidaying in a luxury yacht in the French Riviera feel all is fair.
Anupama Airy Of Hindustan Times who resigned post the Essar ‘Lollypop’ Scam wrote an Email to her Editor-in-Chief venting her angst that often she had been asked by her bosses to seek favors from them. Here is the verbatim of her email:
I have already submitted my resignation and the same would have reached you by now. However I would like to put things in perspective and understand how what I have done for a friend has amounted to taking a favour while what I have been doing for my bosses and asked to do for the organisation doesn’t amount to taking a favour.
One, after having worked for so many years, none of you held my hands despite my being truly working for the interest of the organisation. If my asking for a help from a friend who I know for years for a vehicle for a third person amounts to a favour what amounts to the following..
1. Arnab (Mitra – National editor of HT) asking most of us for helping him sell copies of his book. He called me to seek help from corporates. Essar helped him by buying 250 copies and Reliance was also contacted to push sales amidst other cos. Then tweets on his book from a few others following a request from him.
2. Arnab asked me for a vehicle support for his trip to Mumbai and I had even organised the same. However he didn’t take it later.
3. SanjoyNrayan (Editor-in-Chief of HT) how many times have I been told to help for sponsorships from most energy firms for HTs leadership summit. More that 1 cr worth of sponsorships every year. I have been used but I considered it my duty to do things for my organisation and my bosses.
4. Sanjoy you asked for a lady’s transfer..known to you.. from NTPC Chairman. I spoke to him. That was certainly not a favour as i tried balancing all my duties and respect for you all none of you could take a stand for me.
My fault…I came and spoke to you that yes I requested for providing a vehicle to a frnd that to from a personal friend in Essar and not as a company executive. If I was guilty of a wrong doing I wouldn’t have come to you.
Arnab asked me to speak to Anjali Bansal of Spencer and Stuart and other headhunters for his wife’s job and the head hunter dealing with Oracle account. I spoke to them and tried to help him. That was certainly not a favour.
But what I have done to help a third person is a favour.
Gaurav Chodhury takes all corporate gifts including I-tab, gold coin and other expensive gifts and PR guys are there to disclose that…none of this is favour. He asks them to leave these things home and not in office.
Why am I then being made to plead guilty by be believing a email which the company had said is fabricated. Just that I came and told you. This is the price I have to pay for being honest. I could hv also easily dismissed it. Why then none of you stood by me.
I am deeply hurt sir.