The controversial journalist and former AAP member Ashish Khetan, accused of planting stories in the Tehelka magazine favouring Essar in the 2G scam case, has now joined the group as the Vice President (legal). The 2014 Lok Sabha candidate of AAP, Ashish Khetan updated his Twitter bio confirming his new post in one of India’ biggest multinational conglomerate group based in Mumbai, infamous for its alleged involvement in a case arising from a 2G scam.
Ashish Khetan, who was fielded as the AAP Delhi constituency candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, was brought into the party by another former member of AAP and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan. Soon the two had a fall out when Khetan’s name was embroiled in the Essar diaries. Bhushan accused Khetan of planting stories in the Tehelka magazine favouring Essar. “Ashish Khetan planted stories for Essar in Tehelka. He wrote stories in favour of 2G accused. Essar paid Tehelka Rs 3 crore for its Thinkfest,” Prashant told CNN-IBN in 2015.
The CBI had named Essar group promoters in its charge sheet on December 12, 2011, alleging they had cheated the Department of Telecommunication by using Loop Telecom as a “front” to secure 2G licences in 2008.
Khetan, who wrote for Tehelka, a media face which talks about morality and ethos had defended Essar in 2G scam case. DNA had in the year 2015, revealed the alleged nexus between various eminent journalists and Essar group which had tried to get its name cleared from the 2G scam case by getting these journalists to write in favour of the company in exchange of aids.
In 2015, DNA India had questioned whether it was a coincidence that the Essar group was also sponsoring media events in Tehelka soon after the magazine printed stories in favour of Essar. In October 2011, Tehelka published a cover story ‘The inconvenient truth of Soni Suri’, written by Tehelka’s then managing editor Shoma Chaudhary on the allegations of the tribal teacher turned Aam Aadmi Party leader Soni Sori having received money from Essar on behalf of Maoists.
Subsequently, in November 2011, Essar group also sponsored Tehelka’s first think fest, held in Goa. Essar chief Prashant Ruia was also a speaker at this event in a session on the second day.
Meanwhile, Ashish Khetan, who was a journalist in 2011, had also defended Essar during the same period by calling CBI’s enquiry a Mad Conspiracy. Khetan had written, “The story was based on meticulous research and brought out the conflicting government records to show how the CBI was adopting different yardsticks for different accused thus making a mockery of a sensitive investigation like a 2G scam.