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June 1, 2002 | 1310 IST
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Govt nominee says he was in the dark

BS Economy Bureau

The government nominee on the VSNL board, Rakesh Kumar, shot off a letter claiming that the piece of information pertaining to the Rs 12 billion investment in Tata Teleservices was withheld from him.

Kumar said neither the agenda nor the presentation made by N Srinath, director of VSNL, had mentioned that VSNL would buy shares of Tata Teleservices.

Supporting Kumar's stance, Union Minister for communications Pramod Mahajan said: "The government nominee told us he had not given his consent. I would believe my officer, rather than what VSNL was saying unless it could conclusively prove that Kumar had given his consent."

Kumar, responding to a communication from VSNL's company secretary claiming that the government nominee had not dissented, said he had asked the VSNL management to concentrate on its areas of strength, namely Internet services, instead of investing in basic services.

"I am shocked to read news items appearing in a section of the media regarding the approval of the VSNL board on inter-corporate investments up to Rs 12 billion in the share capital of an Indian company holding a basic licence. I record my strongest protest," Kumar said.

"The fact that I, as a government nominee, had raised objections and reservations at the time of Srinath's presentation, has not been reflected in the media reports and perhaps in the communication to the stock exchange," he added.

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