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Since 1st March, 1999
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Amar reels out tape tirade
Manmohan Singh and Amar Singh at the inauguration of an expo in Greater Noida on Friday. (PTI)

New Delhi, Jan. 6: Amar Singh added the national security adviser to his list of suspects in the alleged tapping of his phone and dispelled any notion anyone might have of his being a saint.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, “an extra-constitutional authority”, had topped the Samajwadi Party leader’s list of phone-tap culprits ever since he made the allegation.

Ambika Soni, a Congress general secretary, M.K. Narayanan, national security adviser, Pulak Chatterjee, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office, “MP journalist” Rajiv Shukla and a “big industrialist” joined her.

He claimed that the big industrialist was paying as much as Rs 80 lakh a month for the tapping.

“He is a big name in the telecom business. I have informed the Prime Minister about him.”

Amar Singh made it clear it was not Anil Ambani, who owns Reliance Infocomm, one of whose franchise-holders has been arrested.

“People are saying it’s Anil Ambani. But he’s a friend, a brother. We have conversations regularly,” Amar Singh said.

At first, he did not name the journalist who, he said, had been distributing cassettes of the alleged conversations he had had.

Amar Singh said he himself had heard the tapes spread over 20 hours. “In these, there is some truth and some lies.”

Ambika Soni and Amar Singh’s leader and Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mulayam Singh, have hinted that the tapes might contain conversations with women, mostly Bollywood starlets. Amar Singh admitted as much.

“I have not renounced the world, nor am I an RSS pracharak (who have to be celibate) that I need to be a dry, reclusive person. But why is Ambika Soni so worried about my moral standards' I am not married to her. She refers to me as ‘Majnu’. All I can say is that only a Laila can understand the pain of a Majnu,” he said.

Amar Singh dared those who possessed the tapes to disclose them, saying he was not going to be “blackmailed” by the whiff of a sex scandal or illegal financial transactions that are allegedly part of his phone records.

“Lalu Prasad Yadav said the conversations be made public. Let them be made public, but only after Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Shukla and Ambika Soni hold a press conference in the Congress headquarters and admit they were indeed behind tapping my phone.”

He alleged that at least 60 tapes, involving leaders of different political parties, were in the possession of Sonia.

Amar Singh intends to take up the issue with all non-Congress chief ministers, the President, the Vice-President, the privilege committee of Parliament and the Prime Minister.

He failed to catch Manmohan Singh’s attention at a public function in Greater Noida. “Dr Manmohan Singh is a very decent person. He has already said phone-tapping is a very serious matter and it needs to be investigated.”

A third person was arrested today in Delhi in the phone-tap investigation. Anurag is an employee of a private detective agency.

Earlier, Bhupendra, who owns an agency, and Kuldeep, a Reliance Infocomm franchise-holder, had been arrested.

The Congress took Amar Singh’s allegations in stride. Spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi wondered why the Samajwadi leader was holding the “entire country to ransom” on a personal matter. “Why is he so hassled'”

Amar Singh explained why. “I am scared to talk to my wife in my bedroom for fear that Sonia auntie is listening.”

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