Operation Duryodhan, Part 10
Director: Aaj Tak, Cobrapost
Duration: 00:43:20; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 359.704; Saturation: 0.117; Lightness: 0.351; Volume: 0.209; Cuts per Minute: 4.707; Words per Minute: 29.348
V: Hailing from MP and elected straight to the Lok Sabha seat on a BJP seat, Chandrapratap Singh lives at plot no. 33, North Avenue, Delhi.
V: It was in this flat that the reporter, posing as a representative from NISMA, met Chandrapratap Singh for the third time.
[continues] The conversation goes from foreign investment in small scale industries to submitting a petition the Lok Sabha.
V: The reporter then gives him Rs. 10,000.
R: We had spoke about petitioning the last time.
MP: Yes, bhai, yes.
R: So how do we go about it? What are the problems and procedure involved?
MP: This has to be submitted well in advance.
R: That's the problem.
R: So this won't be possible?
MP: There's only one week of time left.
R: Yes, yes.
MP: The way it works is whatever comes up in the lottery.
MP: There is always a lottery. A lot of questions come up in it. They have to choose only 20 of them.
[continues] These 20, the way they work is...
R: But can there be no cheating in this?
MP: No no, there's no cheating. The members sit ahead with others around them and the lottery is drawn. There's only 20 from the lottery.
MP: There is no cheating in this.
R: I have Rs. 10,000 with me as an advance. This is for the coming session. All I am asking is we have a monthly set-up.
[continues] There should be a fixed amount. This is between us.
MP: Give it whenever you want. There's no issue.
R: Here's Rs. 10,000, okay? We will go about it as you advise.
MP: First, you keep it ready 21 days in advance. Rather, if you give it one month in advance, then even for us... like now our session is ending.
R: I want to give it to you myself. If I give it to someone else, I won't know head or tail of it.
MP: You give it to me as soon as you come.
MP: We will give it before the session begins.
V: Date- May 11, 2005
Place- 33, North Avenue, 2005.
V: This is the first meeting between MP Chandrapratap Singh and the reporter. It took place in the drawing room of his official bungalow on May 11.
There was no broker present in this meeting. After giving the reference of the broker Chandrabhan, the reporter met him by herself.
After the conversation, the reporter gave Rs. 25,000 to the MP in a packet.
The MP looked at the packet carefully, said, 'What was the need for this?' and kept the packet on the table.
R: Please count it.
MP: What was the need for this?
R: Now... I mean, it's 25,000.
MP: What was the need for this?
MP: As and when we need to contact you, maybe something comes up, okay?
V: The reporter gave five questions to Chandraprakash Singh for the monsoon session.
R: 'Is the government doing anything to control the prices of medicines from skyrocketing so that the poor, especially the rural consumers, can avail a good quality of drugs?'
Anchor (A): We have with us the reporter Aniruddha Bahal. Under the name Navratan Malhotra, he played the executive director of NISMA.
A: Suhasini Raj played the representative of NISMA under the name of Namita Gokhale.
A: This operation was supported Kumar Badal. It started in April and went on till December, which is to say that it was going on for last seven months.
A: During this operation, more than 56 videotapes and 70 audiotapes were recorded.
A: To make the results public, when cobrapost.com
contacted Aaj Tak, we started inspecting and understanding the things, after which we decided to air it in public interest.
Aniruddha Bahal (AB): There were some cross-questions but the kind of questions that we put across...
AB: Look, we couldn't put the kind of questions that would hurt the dignity of the Parliament.
AB: But we certainly wanted to prove that we can put in any kind of questions. For example, one of the questions that was selected
[continues] ...which wasn't from one of our 11 MPs but from some other place, a result of one of our moves, was about Salinger cotton.
AB: J D Salinger is an American author. I made up a cotton [brand] by his name. Another question was 'When is Catch-22 cotton going to be manufactured in India?'
[continues] Now I read out similar questions in front of many MPs, like one about 'Yossarian railway engine', an imaginary diesel engine.
AB: Now, Yossarian is a character from Catch-22, a novel by Joseph Heller written in 1950s-60s. When will an engine by the name of an imaginary character be appointed?
AB: And 'When will the Tom Wolfe committee be examined?' Even Tom Wolfe is an American author.
[continues] There a lot of such question. The only aim was to prove how porous, how easy it is to do these things.
AB: And if we were a powerful lobby, if we were a sinister lobby, we were in a position to influence any policy.
[continues] We didn't want to influence any policy. We only want to show you how easy it is. Now we have proved how easy it is.
AB: We didn't want to round them up. I was leading a peaceful existence between my house and office, researching for a novel, working on a documentary.
AB: When there was an expose on India TV by the name 'Casting Couch',
...I wrote a small column in Hindustan Times saying that hidden camera should only be used when something is of public interest.
AB: Otherwise, using of hidden camera is not justified for some voyeuristic exercise. That's my approach towards it.
AB: I said that instead of such stories, I will give you ideas on what the media should work on.
AB: One of these ideas was that there are rumours that MPs take bribes even for asking questions.
AB: This was what I had written in a column in Hindustan Times in the month of March, that there should be a story on this.
AB: Then I got a notice from the Parliament...
A: We will stop you right there. When there were sting operations being conducted on news channels on various matters, this is what struck Aniruddha Bahal.
A: He wrote an article on it and got a notice from the Parliament. After the break, what were the contents of the notice and how matters progressed afterwards.
A: You had mentioned earlier that the way sting operations were conducted, you felt that these are not in public interest.
[continues] You wrote an article in which you brought up this aspect and got a notice from the Parliament. What happened next?
AB: I got a notice from Parliament as to why I wrote about MPs taking money in exchange of asking questions.
AB: I wrote a letter to the respected Somnathdada, the speaker.
AB: I told him that I have only suggested a story idea. I haven't taken any names. If there are notices issued on story ideas, that's not right.
AB: Since this incident, I was... I won't say 'fearful' but I had a feeling that I might be summoned again as to how I can write such a thing.
AB: I thought of starting my own investigation and show them that look, I had written about this and I was correct on stating that such things happen.
AB: That's... that's how it started and now it has ended...
A: So as you conceived it, how many people were in the team, how did it work out?
AB: I had decided in the beginning that there needs to be a female reporter in this.
[continues] Then came along Suhasini. She was already working in my organization.
Ab: She has done what I would call an extraordinary job on converting this idea onto the field. Kumar Badal also supported this. It was limited but a very good one.