PMO asked to submit ‘Rajan’s list’ of high-profile NPA cases’: report

A media report says an estimates committee has asked the PMO to provide a list of high-profile NPA fraud cases, compiled by former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, to Parliament for investigation

Photo by Indranil Bhoumik/Mint via Getty Images
Photo by Indranil Bhoumik/Mint via Getty Images

NH Web Desk

There seems to be no end to the troubles piling up around the panic-stricken Narendra Modi Government. Now an estimates committee of the Lok Sabha has reportedly sent a notice to the Prime Minister’s Office, asking the PMO to share with the Parliament the list of high-profile fraud cases of non-performing assets (NPA) compiled by the former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, for “coordinated investigation”.

According to a report published by The Wire, the notice was sent to the PMO about 10 days ago by the chairman of the estimates committee, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran Murli Manohar Joshi—a former union minister who was relegated to the party’s 'Margdarshak Mandal' by PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.

Interestingly, many users on Twitter were quick to post sarcastic comments, claiming that the veteran party leader has allegedly been settling scores with PM Narendra Modi for relegating him to the 'Margdarshak Mandal', which has never held a meeting and is known in BJP party circles as a posting for senior leaders who Modi and Shah want to keep out of their way.

The notice has come at a time when a rattled Modi government is already reeling under accusations of promoting cronyism, supporting a select group of billionaires such as Gautam Adani, Anil Ambani, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya, and turning a blind eye towards burgeoning bank fraud cases by some of India’s biggest companies. “MM Joshi led Parliament Committee asks PMO to reveal list of high profile bank fraudsters that RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had sent to our ‘Chaukidar’ (watchman). He mentioned that many of these are involved in over invoicing of imports (like Adani). Let's see how PM responds,” tweeted senior lawyer and Swaraj India leader Prashant Bhushan.

The notice, the report said, also asks the PMO as to what action has been taken “in terms of coordinated investigation into corporates committing frauds with bank funds”. It further read: “Former central bank chief Raghuram Rajan had told the PMO that it should set an example and act as a ‘deterrent’ if a ‘high profile fraud NPA was made an example of’.”

It further goes on to add that Rajan, in his note to the committee, had maintained that he was “unaware” of any action taken by the Modi Government against those who he had listed. Pertinently, Rajan’s term as RBI governor was not renewed by the Modi government.

The report further stated that similar notices have been issued to the coal and power ministries. The notices are based on a letter that Rajan had written to them in reply when they sought his views on the ballooning NPA crisis plaguing India,” it read, adding that “the estimate committee’s notices based on the Rajan note also include those sent to the RBI governor Urjit Patel, finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia and banking secretary Rajiv Kumar asking them to appear before the committee and explain what action has been taken.”

Will Modi pull a Khanduri on Joshi?

Curiously, the report also mentions removal of BC Khanduri as the chairman of the Parliamentary committee on defence last week. Quoting anonymous sources, the report claimed that it was done as the defence committee had commented adversely on the defence preparedness of the armed forces.

Khanduri—a former Uttarakhand Chief Minister and Union Minister, who had successfully executed out the Golden Quadrilateral project as a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government—told The Times of India that he had no regrets and that he had done his duty.

Apprehending embarrassment ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the report further indicated, the Modi government may seek to pull another Khanduri and remove Joshi too.

A commentator speculated, “It would be interesting to see how PM Narendra Modi’s office responds to the BJP MP MM Joshi-led Parliamentary panel on Rajan List of high-profile NPA fraud cases. Let's wait to see if Modi shows courage to fight corruption or becomes vindictive by targeting and removing Joshi from the panel”.

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