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Why Ratan Tata hired Niira Radia's PR agency

Last updated on: December 9, 2010 17:15 IST

Image: Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Reuters

Stating that Tatas did not have a 'captive' connection to counter a media campaign against it by an unholy nexus between certain corporates and journalists, Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata on Thursday said that this necessitated engagement of external PR service provider Niira Radia.

Tata, who had earlier gone to the Supreme Court seeking a probe into leakage of tapes containing his conversation with Radia and also a ban on further publication of the same, said that the Radia-led Vaishnavi was commissioned to project the group's views in the media to counter vested interests.

Tata's views came amid the uproar over Radia's alleged nexus with corporate, politicians and journalists and the ongoing litigation on the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

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Why Ratan Tata hired Niira Radia's PR agency

Image: Niira Radia.
Photographs: Rediff Archive

Countering charges levelled against him and the Tata Group by former telecom entrepreneur and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Tata questioned as to why Chandrasekhar himself was trying to influence politicians and solicit support from selected corporate.

"You and many others have focused your attention on Radia as a corporate lobbyist," Tata said while questioning Chandrasekhar's role in trying to prevent entry of limited mobility and CDMA mobile service.

The noted industrialist reminded Chandrasekhar of the time when he had parked himself at the Taj Mahal Hotel Delhi, for several months in 2002 to prevent entry of Wireless in Local Loop (WLL) limited mobility and CDMA.

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Why Ratan Tata hired Niira Radia's PR agency

He also told Chandrasekhar about his interaction with the polity and bureaucracy and with other operators to forge telecom policy of his choice, while at the same soliciting support of industry lobby CII.

"Would you consider this as an endeavour to influence or subvert policy? To influence politicians or solicit support from selected corporates?"

"I take it that in your view, this would not constitute lobbying. Your affiliation to a particular political party is well-known and it appears that political aspirations and their endeavour to embarrass the prime minister and the ruling party may well have been the motivation behind your letter and the insinuations which you make," Tata said.

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Why Ratan Tata hired Niira Radia's PR agency

Claiming that the Tata Group was under attack 10 years ago in media to defame the ethics and value systems of the group which held it apart from others, he said Vaishnavi was engaged to project the group's point of view in the media.

He said Vaishnavi was owned neither by the Tata Group nor the group is Vaishnavi's only client.

Tata wondered why Chandrasekhar has sought to denounce Tatas association with Radia after nine years, particularly when he himself had interacted with her on some occasions in the past.

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Why Ratan Tata hired Niira Radia's PR agency

Tata refuted allegations that the group had employed Pradeep Baijal, former Trai chairman and divestment secretary who is now working with one of Vaishnavi's affiliate.

"Mr Baijal, whom you apparently have a dislike, is part of Noesis, (an affiliate of Vaishnavi in which Tatas have no ownership) and, as facts will show, on various occasions has differed with the Tata Group during his period in office and has not advocated or influenced telecom policy for the Tata Group in any way," Tata said.

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