The businessman-politician who finds himself in coal row

If the DMK says S Jagathrakshakan was not a minister or even party member when his company,JR Power Gen Pvt Ltd,got a coal block in Orissa in 2007,they may have a point.

Written by Gopu Mohan | Chennai | Published: September 8, 2012 2:33:03 am

If the DMK says S Jagathrakshakan was not a minister or even party member when his company,JR Power Gen Pvt Ltd,got a coal block in Orissa in 2007,they may have a point.

The Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting who finds himself under fire for allegedly benefiting from coal allocation has for most part of his career dabbled both in politics and business.

One of the first politicians to see professional education as a business venture,he founded the Bharath Institute of Science and Technology in 1984. In 1999,he won from the Arakkonam Lok Sabha seat on a DMK ticket and by 2003,his engineering college was a deemed university. It also spread its wings to Pondicherry and Karnataka.

Around this time,he floated the Veera Vanniyar Peravai,a caste-based outfit banking on the clout of the numerically strong Vanniya community. In August 2004,Jagathrakshakan launched a political party named Jananayaga Munnetra Kazhagam. Though he did not contest,the party extended support to the DMK-Congress combine. After lying low for five years,Jagathrakshakan merged his party with the DMK and again got a party ticket.

For his third stint in Parliament,he beat former MoS Railways R Velu. Many were surprised that ignoring other senior DMK leaders,the party chose to nominate him for a ministerial berth. Jagathrakshakan eventually grew even closer to DMK chief M Karunanidhi,accompanying him for “strategy sessions” near Chennai.

Not long before he became the minister,his college had become embroiled in a capitation fee row. As cases were filed,it was one of the 44 deemed universities blacklisted by the UGC. However,years have passed and no concrete action has been taken against the university. Jagatharakshakan’s son J Sundeep Aanand is the chancellor-president of Bharath University.

During the last regime,he also cornered a distillery licence,again managing to brush off a row over it. Controversy dogged him once more when it was alleged that there were discrepancies between the age and date of birth he had furnished in his election affidavit and the one given in his university’s website. None of it weathered him.

So while the DMK can distance itself from Jagathrakshakan saying he was not a minister or a party member when JR Power Gen Pvt Ltd got a coal block in 2007,his closeness to the party or how it has paid off have never been in doubt.

Incidentally,the company had also managed to secure a coal block along with Puducherry Industrial Promotion Development and Investment Corporation at a time when the Congress was in power in the Union territory.

Senior journalists in Tamil Nadu say that after becoming the MoS for Information and Broadcasting,Jagathrakshakan had sounded out several of them when he flirted with the idea of starting a news channel and an English newspaper. It did not take off.

While Jagathrakshakan has faced a lot of challenges in his career and not lost much,it remains to be seen if he will emerge unscathed from the latest.

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