| Amar: Bald facts
New Delhi, Feb. 23: Amar Singh ki Amar Kahani, now running on your television screen. Well, almost.
Audio CDs bearing the above label and allegedly containing tapped phone conversations of the Samajwadi Party leader were the talk of the town today after television channels claimed to have received copies and Amar sent legal notices against airing them.
While no channel actually aired the CDs, some of the contents, most quite harmless, were spilled through interviews with Amar, inviting the charge by party colleague Raj Babbar that the drama was scripted by the man himself.
The CDs are said to contain conversations with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, industrialist and friend Anil Ambani, unnamed bureaucrats, film actresses and a Congress MP.
Amar, who moved Supreme Court seeking a judicial inquiry into the circulation of the CDs, said they could be “doctored, morphed and fabricated” but admitted to have spoken to Ambani. In reply to a question, he, however, denied having sought any personal financial favours during the conversation.
“Light-hearted” conversations with actresses were his private business, the Samajwadi leader said, indirectly confirming they did take place.
But Amar denied ever speaking to the chief minister about the removal of a judge of Allahabad High Court.
“Let any judge confirm we approached him, then I am ready to quit politics. Also, Mulayam has no power to remove any judge. He is not the chief justice. He is not the law minister,” he said, replying to reporters’ questions in Parliament.
The high court is due to give its ruling on a split in the BSP that helped Mulayam wrest power. If the split is declared illegal, the government’s status will come under a cloud.
Amar also said he did not recall any discussion with a bureaucrat on the upcoming Special Economic Zone in Noida, again in reply to questions about the alleged contents of the CDs.
Parliament was adjourned today before the CD story picked up steam, but the political circles were abuzz. The response was that of surprise, not at what was on the CDs but that there was no more.
Raj Babbar, a party colleague who has been going hammer and tongs at Amar for a while, alleged that the CDs with the news channels were not the originals, but an edited version containing the least damaging conversations. He claimed the CDs had been sent to the channels by Amar himself to minimise the damage that could be caused if the full tapped conversations were leaked.
Amar could not be reached for his reaction to Raj Babbar’s allegations.
Another Samajwadi leader, Janeshwar Mishra, said he would be happy if the tapes were made public because that would help get to the bottom of the controversy and find out who was behind the phone tapping.
Amar accused “a Union minister, a former Congress spokeswoman and a Mumbai-based industrialist close to the party” of having engineered the tapping and leaked its contents.
“If somebody has done the sting, let them take responsibility. Why don’t they come forward' I will not object to it being aired then,” he said.
In December, Amar had first come out with the allegation that his phone was being tapped and had held the Centre, particularly Sonia Gandhi, responsible.
Legal experts said the channels were free to air the tapes if they were sure these were authentic, since there is no restraint order yet from the court.
In the absence of such an order, just that the matter is pending before the court does not bar them from airing the tapes, senior lawyer S.S. Gandhi said. The legal notice sent by Amar could not restrain the channels, but he could sue them for defamation later and they would then have to prove the authenticity of the tapes.
“If the news channels have decided not to broadcast the conversation, it is merely self-restraint. It has nothing to do with law but with guts,” advocate Kamini Jaiswal added.