Sam Pitroda addressing media organised by Bangalore Reporters Guild at Press Club in Bangalore on March 22, 2014. (Photo : IANS)

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS): The Social media is trending on possible links between Frances Le Monde daily and Sam Pitroda, the high-profile technocrat close to the Gandhi family.

It has been suggested that Pitroda, who many describe as the father of India’s telecom revolution, has close business links with French billionaire Xavier Niel, one of the co-owners of Le Monde.

Niel’s main business is telecom., which puts his wealth at $4.4 billion, says he owns 55 per cent of Ilaid, the parent company of Free Mobile, which is owned by him.

A series of social media posts, which started on Saturday and then picked up momentum, suggested that Pitroda actually invested in Niel’s company.

Ravi Kant, who uses the Twitter handle @LegalKant, claimed in a post: “So basically Le Monde’s co-owner has links to Sam Pitroda and @lemondefr main French media competitor @Le_Figaro is owned by Groupe Dassault Did @lemondefr share these facts in its vicious report that seems more suited for Congress mouthpiece @NH_India.”

In another post, he says: “Few are aware that Xavier Niel’s firms gained from investments made by Sam Pitroda To what extent Sam Pitroda made those investments?”

He then asks: “Can Sam Pitroda deny any commercial links with Xavier Niel?”

Ravi Kant goes on to claim on Twitter: “Such deep are the links between French Newspaper Le Monde and #SamPitroda (advisor of @RahulGandhi) that he was called as ‘father of India’s telecommunications network equipment’.”

IANS contacted Pitroda on WhatsApp against the backdrop of Ravi Kant’s tweets, and asked whether he had any links with Niel. Pitroda’s response was: “Do not know who he is and have no business with him. I do not know where you got this from.”

Ravi Kant describes himself as lawyer-turned-labour economist, who graduated from the Global Labour University and was thereafter a PhD scholar at Sorbonne in Paris, researching on labour markets.

The Twitter trail on his posts got significant traction. One reason for that is the relevance of Pitroda. He left India after the Congress lost the 1989 Lok Sabha election and Rajiv Gandhi was no longer Prime Minister. However, he continues to generate interest in India.

When the Congress-led UPA came to power, he headed the National Knowledge Commission. He is close to the Gandhis and is believed to be playing a role in the Congress strategy in the Lok Sabha elections.

The Twitter posts by followed a report in the Le Monde pertaining to the Rafale deal which was denied by the Indian and French governments but was taken up by the Congress party.

Ravi Kant said in a post: “It is a mischievous attempt by Le Monde to discredit #RafaleDeal which benefits the owner of its French media competitor.

“Foreign media is meddling in Indian elections because it has deep links (sic) to the family of Rahul Gandhi.”

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