16 things you didn’t know about Rajeev Chandrasekhar (and maybe didn’t want to)

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The Caravan magazine has a lengthy profile of mobile operator turned Rajya Sabha member turned media baron cum defence dealer Rajeev Chandrasekhar in its latest issue.

The story breaks no new ground on the man who owns Asianet News, Suvarna News, Kannada Prabha and Republic TV, but drops these minor gems along the 12,000-word way.

BJP president Amit Shah doesn’t quite think much of Rajeev Chandrasekhar‘s political capital, although Ananth Kumar and B.S. Yediyurappa may have tapped his father-in-law T.P.G. Nambiar for funds.

Rajeev was pissed off when The Times of India did not include him among the world’s richest Malayalees and sent a representative to set the record straight.

Rajeev thinks he is worth about Rs 7,500 crore (a little over $1 billion), but in his Rajya Sabha declaration, he put down his total assets at Rs 35.9 crore (about $5.5 million).

Rajeev’s mother Valli is a former hockey player. His father M.K. Chandrasekhar gave a Rs 1 lakh capitation fee to secure a BE seat for him in Manipal.

The late telecom minister Rajesh Pilot knew Rajeev’s father M.K. Chandrasekhar from his air force days, which many say may have secured Rajeev’ BPL mobile licence.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar owns a fleet of luxury cars, numerous motorcycles and a nine-seat private jet that reportedly cost Rs 140 crore—in the vicinity of $20 million.

He may have spent about Rs 100 crore in his legal battle with his father-in-law T.P.G. Nambiar to gain control over the family’s telecom business. He later sold a 64% stake in BPL Mobile to Essar for Rs 4,400 crore, making about Rs 1,000 crore in the process.

Jo apne sasur ka bhala nahi kar saka, woh is party ka kya bhala karega? (What good will a man who could not do good by his father-in-law do for the party?),” The late Pramod Mahajan reportedly said when Rajeev sought BJP support for his Rajya Sabha candidature.

He acquired a 51% stake in Asianet from Sashi Kumar and Reji Menon in 2006 for between Rs 120-150 crore, and then ceded control of Asianet’s general entertainment channels to Rupert Murdoch for Rs 1,400 crore.

Rajeev personally instructed the Kannada channel Suvarna News to do a series of shows on the flaws in Aadhaar before the 2014 general elections when Nandan Nilekani was the Congress candidate against Ananth Kumar in Bangalore South.

Former Suvarna News editor Vishweshwar Bhat quips that Rajeev Chandrasekhar has had more editors than the English actor Elizabeth Hurley has had boyfriends.

Ten people from Rajeev Chandrashekhar’s channels, most of them from Suvarna News, provided technical assistance to NaMo TV in Gujarat before its launch in October 2012.

When the actress Ramya aka Divya Spandana filed a case against Suvarna for alleging that she had links with IPL bookies, Chandrashekhar asked her to drop his name but keep Vishveshwar Bhat’s.

He is not fluent in Malayalam and Kannada. Staffers are asked to translate stories from  Kannada Prabha to indicate the positions the paper takes on issues.

Arun Jaitley apparently lobbied hard for a cabinet berth for Rajeev in the last reshuffle of the Narendra Modi team but the position went to K.J. Alphons. Rajeev claims he was offered a place but did not want a Minister of State position.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar has put in Rs 30 crore in Arnab Goswami-controlled Republic TV.

Read the full article: No Land’s Man