During UPA regime, telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran allegedly threatened the Tata Group that he would block its telecom clearances, if it didn’t sell stake in Tata-Star DTH project to Sun Group at low price. He was putting pressure on the Tata Group.
DoT secretary J S Sarma, however, was a big obstacle. Sarma declined to oblige Maran and didn’t follow his instructions. Maran was angry and wanted to remove him from the ministry.Maran approached the cabinet secretary, who refused to follow his directions. Maran met the prime minister Manmohan Singh and reminded him that DMK was an important constituent of UPA. If DMK pulled out of it, the government would fall. Maran succeeded. Sarma was shifted to the ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.
Later Maran transferred a Deputy Director General of the department of telecommunications (DoT) who was in key position to a remote area. (This DDG is still serving in the ministry). The message was loud and clear. If one didn’t toe Maran’s line, one would meet the same fate as that of the secretary and the DDG.
However, there was no surprise element in these transfers. Both knew it was coming. Their seniors were in touch with them and they were mentally prepared for it.
Fast forward to 2017
Telecom secretary J. S. Deepak is abruptly removed from the ministry.Even the minister didn’t know that his secretary was transferred.Deepak was in Barcelona attending Mobile World Congress (MWC). There was so much urgency that his transfer couldn’t wait even for a single day. No new secretary was appointed in his place. A junior (director level) post in the Commerce ministry was elevated to accommodate Deepak. Three months later, Deepak would join WTO.
What happened in last one week that his removal became priority of the government? The only decision Telecom Commission, with Deepak as chairman, took was to appriseTelecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) of the “alarming decline” in the government revenue due to its recent tariff related decisions and its overall negative impact on the growth of the industry.
Though the Telecom Commission note didn’t name any Company, it clearly indicated that TRAI decisions favoured a new Telco and the regulator was doing it at the cost of national exchequer and the whole industry.
“…….. Apni Dukaan Hai” – Niira Radia Tapes
Officials in the telecom ministry are trying to find message in Deepak’s removal. It is loud and clear. They should be cautious in dealing with issues related to a particular business house. After all, the governments come and go but Dukaan of this Business House remains as it is.
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J. S. Deepak’s removal as Telecom Secretary: Story behind story