(In the Know Your Candidate series, tfipost.com will profile interesting candidates in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections)
With the Lok Sabha polls round the corner, the Congress released the first list of its candidates on Thursday. The list included some big names including the inheritors of the Nehru-Gandhi legacy, party president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi. One of the names is that of Annu Tandon and she has been fielded from the Unnao Lok Sabha constituency. She had come in limelight in 2012, when Kejriwal had accused her husband and her of holding money either for themselves or on the behalf of the Reliance Industries. Tandon had denied those allegations, calling them baseless and defamatory.
Annu Tandon had first made headlines in 2009 when she contested from the Unnao Lok Sabha seat and became an MP from there. Till 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the seat was considered a BSP stronghold and the Congress had finished at an embarrassing fourth position in the constituency in the 2004 parliamentary polls. The BJP candidate obviously won from the Unnao Lok Sabha seat during the 2014 elections as the saffron party had swept the state during the last Lok Sabha elections.
However, more than her political career, it is the allegedly murky financial dealings on the part of Annu Tandon which has kept her in the limelight. In 2013, it had been reported that among others, MoTech Software, then led by Annu Tandon, was one of the companies facing scrutiny for insider trading in Reliance Petroleum Ltd. (RPL) in 2007. A dozen companies including MoTech Software were accused of helping the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in offloading four per cent stake for Rs. 4,023 crore. These entities which were being scrutinised were said to have first sold the RPL shares in futures market and covered it later in order to minimise the impact on market prices. RPL shares were trading at around Rs. 295 each at the beginning of the operation. By the time, the transaction was announced to the exchanges, the shares closed at Rs. 209.
As per a 2014 livemint report, Shalin Narain Tandon, son of Annu Tandon, was then a director on the board of Ekansha Enterprise Pvt. Ltd, a company which was reportedly associated with two companies linked to the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL).
Annu Tandon has undoubtedly been associated with the Congress for quite some time now. She had won the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in what the grand old party must have considered a surprise victory. During the 2014 polls, there was not much scope for a Congress candidate to withstand the Modi wave, especially in the state of Uttar Pradesh and expectedly Tandon lost the elections. That being said, what she brings on the table for the Congress is the allegations against her which can play a big role in the perception battle before the Lok Sabha polls. The Congress president has been trying to allege Modi government of helping big businessmen like Ambani and Adani. However, the allegations of Tandon’s association with the Reliance Industries are not going to help the Congress in its propaganda during its election campaign.