PNB scam will continue to hit headlines
India is heading for a hot summer not only weather-wise, but also politically as a no hold battle has started between the opposition parties and BJP, the party in power. With poll in 2019 in mind opposition parties have made scams in banking sector, lack of jobs and farmers distress to target the ruling party. While Government has decided to target Congress leaders like former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, former Chief Minister of Haryana Hooda and Gandhi family to establish that Congress party has indulged in large scale corruption and the present Government is taking action against all who are guilty.
With bank scams hitting headlines every day indicating that the size of PNB bank is becoming larger with passage of time and many other banks also reporting scams, the Government agencies like CBI and enforcement directorate have become active by arresting Karti Chidamabaram, son of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. To say the least the arrest is considered as a part of attempt to divert attention from banks scam.
For instance the charges against the accused have been under investigation for over six months and no charge sheet has been field so far. The CBI claim that they have found fresh evidence in the form of statements of Peter Mukherjee and his wife, both accused in jail on murder charge. The statement by them is suspect and holds little credibility in the absence of any supporting evidence. More so it does not justify arrest as all evidence is with CBI and there is no reason to suspect that accused will leave country to escape prosecution as he has returned to India on his own.
One can expect that in days to come there would be more action and many more leaders may face prosecution. Such action will only support the impression that while the official agencies are slow or in amnesia in case of scams like Viyapam or others, but are active in cases of suspected wrong doings by Congress leaders. Lot of activity is expected in cases relating to National Herald, Mr Vadra, son in law of Mrs Sonia Gandhi and former Chief Minister of Haryana Mr Hooda.
The question that can be asked will it help the ruling party. A question will be asked why no case has been made in four years of BJP rule and why with elections approaching all agencies have suddenly become active. One has to keep in mind wrong doing by others does not justify what has happened during BJP rule where thousands of crores have disappeared from banks and all accused like Mr Lalit Modi, Mr Vijay Malya and Mr Nirav Modi have been able to leave India before the authorities could catch them.
The argument that the present Government has inherited the corrupt system and had been trying to change it by introducing new laws like Benami Property Act or Insolvency act to check the same is not valid as frauds have taken place during the last three years and all checks put in place have failed to prevent them. This is a failure on part of not only regulators like internal auditors, Reserve Bank and Finance Ministry. The Finance Minister Arun Jetley can not escape by blaming bank auditors, RBI as he as head of Finance Ministry is equally guilty and not a mute spectator or who can blame everyone except owning up his own responsibility.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his assumption of the office of Prime Minister had declared that he would act as a “Chowkidar”, who would not indulge in corruption or allow anyone to do so. The recent bank scams are an example of crony capitalism and, acts of corruption at different levels in state owned banks. Indirectly it is a public loss. One can ask the Government which was providing huge sums to provide additional capital for banks while at same time not looking into their management to check frauds. Workers representation in board of directors of banks was denied. There is urgent need to find out if top management was influenenced by political bosses.
There is little doubt that a complete audit of State owned banks will find many more cases of fraud and crony capitalism Atleast one electronic channel is exposing one scam a day.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)