Let Modi tell us also of the ‘Bad Governance Day’

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

December 25 has been christened as the ‘Good Governance Day’ by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. Now, therefore, it is incumbent upon him to tell us which day is the ‘Bad Governance Day’. Because, nothing is good unless something is bad.

If there is a ‘Good Governance Day’, there must be a ‘Bad Governance Day’, as otherwise ‘Good Governance Day’ would remain a mirage; because mirage is the only exception when every other phenomenon has its opposite phenomenon. And, for a Prime Mister to push the country into a mirage is serious offense.

When the new official calendar for 2015 comes out, it can be known whether December 25 is to continue to be a national holiday as Christmas Day or the ‘Good Governance Day’ is to replace it.

But, Vajpayee’s birthday being the basis of this new nomenclature, it is better to recall his conduct as Prime Minister of India to study if his tenure was really a period of good governance.

A brilliant young man of Orissa, whose name I am not going to give here on privacy ground, lost his kidneys because of misrule that had inspired the adulterators to act as they liked when Vajpayee had become the Prime Minister for the first time. He was at that time pursuing his studies in JNU and had taken food prepared with mustard oil. Mustard oil merchants, strong supporters of political economy of capitalism, whom occupation of the Prime Minister chair by Vajpayee was as if their own era had arrived, had indulged in instant profit fetching through adulteration of essential food materials and the most popular mustard oil was one of them. Hundreds of people in Delhi had died of instant renal failure by taking adulterated mustard oil and thousands had been given extensive treatment followed by warnings that the fatal harm may hit them within a year or two. The survivors were advised to report for kidney treatment the moment they encounter symptoms as were notified by AIIMS. Never before Vajpayee, had the capital city of India suffered such health hazard due to adulteration of edible oil. Forensic tests had determined the adulteration and police investigations had located the adulterators. But no action against any of them was visible. The business community was not to be antagonized in Vajpayee raj.

His tenure as Prime Minister was vitiated with many dubious deals the like of which India had never witnessed earlier. He was a shrewd trader of ‘feel good’ factor, when instead of investment on nation’s means of productions and proper management thereof –  as that was the real and major responsibility of the Government – he had created a disinvestment ministry that destroyed the economic back bone of India. Yet, he had appointed high caliber brain-washing experts like Trikaya Grey and Crayon to coin misleading advertisements and slogans to dazzle the people into the trap of his vote boxes. He had perpetrated a ‘media war’ against the people of India in order to blur their electoral wisdom with the sole purpose of bagging their votes for benefit of plutocracy, which he was ushering in at the cost of Indian democracy. There is reason to fear that he had manufactured the Kargil war to cultivate votes of gullible people, which could have been established had a Judicial Commission of Inquiry been appointed to find out the real reason of reinduction of George Fernandes as defense minister of India.

I had, in these pages on October 13, 2006 stressed on this point under the caption “Vajpayee be Enquired into in context of Fernandes” on grounds discussed therein. I reproduce below the entire article for ready reference.

VAJPAYEE BE ENQUIRED INTO IN CONTEXT OF FERNANDES
Posted on October 13, 2006 by Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Central Bureau of Investigation has initiated prosecution against the Country’s former defense minister George Fernandes, who, in its probe-propelled opinion, is guilty of weakening our defense system through corruption.

Being in online journalism, it is a moment for me to celebrate because this is the first manifestation of major victory of internet media in India.

One is now reminded of the corrupt and scheming administration that Vajpayee had subjected the nation to.

Instead of acting against corruption, Vajpayee had made Tarun Tejpal and his team in tehelka.com, who had exposed that corruption, face inquiries on their method of locating news!

As is his wont, Fernandes is trying to divert public attention from his misdeeds by shouting that he is being prosecuted because of “that lady” Sonia. But in doing so he is showing his fidgetiness.

Why he fidgets?

He is now bound to face the consequences of his involvement in corruptions in defense deals. The game of politics that he nastily played in the Parliament will not come to his rescue in the examination box of the concerned court of prosecution. There is no doubt in the fact that the CBI has taken a lot of time to spot his dubious deals. But it is indicative only of how shrewd is he in transacting venal ventures. Who can and for how long stop the truth from prevailing?

Tehelka tapes had made it convincingly clear that he had reduced his official residence to a dalali hub where his personal preference, the lady president of the political outfit he had formed, Ms. Jaya Jaitley was captured by camera while bargaining for and collecting bribe in the guise of donation to facilitate supply orders for defense materials.

These tapes having knocked at the bottom, the CAG of India, in subsequent time, made a sample audit of defense expenditure and came out with more startling instances of corrupt practice in vogue in the Ministry of Defense under Fernandes.

And, ultimately, now, the CBI has drawn up the charges.

The CBI has filed necessary FIR against Fernandes, Jaitley and former Navi Chief Sushil Kumar for alleged irregularities in purchasing of Barak system from Israel in 2000. When Fernandes maintains that the present President Mr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, during his tenure as Scientific Advisor to Prime Minister, had recommended the Barak system, reports reveal the opposite. According to these reports, Dr. Kalam had expressed doubts over the suitability of Barak. He even had written a letter to Fernandes in 1999 opposing the deal as the system had a 50 percent failure rate. But Kalam’s advice was ignored.

On the other hand, Bishnu Bhagwat, former Naval Chief, who was sacked by Fernandes in December 1998, because he did not favor the shady deal, has alleged that Fernandes was “highly interested” for the purchase and in order to eliminate obstacles, had gone inappropriately ahead to put his own man Sushil in the top most post of Navy. Against this backdrop, the FIR filed by CBI may be viewed as a better late than never step.

I will not, however, speculate on what would be the fate of this FIR.

But to me it occurs, justice cannot be arrived at unless inquiry is conducted into the conduct of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee vis-a-vis Fernandes.

If the later has any benefit from the unprecedented volume of purchase of defense materials in the name of Kargil war, the former had derived the principal source of his sustenance in power from the said war only.

Had there been no Kargil war, Vajpayee would never have become the third time Prime Minister of India.

In May 1999, he had lost his alliance majority after AIADMK withdrew its support at the summit of a yearlong misrule that was anti-people, anti-worker but pro-traders.

The Country was set to set a fresh mandate in October but due to misconceived notion of democracy, Vajpayee continued as a care taker P.M.

Normally he could not have bagged any decisive support as the people had got severely disillusioned. But an abnormal development helped him. That abnormal development was what is known as the Kargil war.

This war gave Fernandes the ground to go for questionable defense deals that are now under the scanner. This war gave Vajpayee a fresh mandate by mesmerizing people to look away from his misdeeds. This being the unread similarity between the two, one gets inclined to ask as to whether there was an extra-parliamentary link between them both? It needs to be investigated into.

The backhander deals in defense procurement videotaped by tehelka.com were televised on 13th of March 2001. The whole nation was stunned. Allies of Vajpayee were ashamed of continuing their support to him. Pressure mounted on dismissal of Fernandes, but Vajpayee was reluctant to drop him or to ask him to quit. Mamata Banerjee resigned in disgust. The south Indian allies declared that it would be difficult for them to support the Government if Fernandes continues in the cabinet.

Fernandes had to leave within a few days in March.

But instead of initiating action against the exposed culprits, a commission of inquiry was appointed under K. Venkataswami under the Commissions of Inquiry Act to probe into the modus operandi of Tehelka!

Fernandes played a pressure game. He did not make any remarkable allegation against the Opposition for the predicament he was thrown into. But his protégés were raising their master’s voice against Vajpayee. If their leader was not reinstated they would expose the Prime Minister and his Office (PMO), they were asserting in statements to the media.

Vajpayee succumbed to the circumstances and emitted such signals that bureaucracy, which was going to provide the inquiry commission with necessary official information on the defense deals, got the impression that Fernandes was a man who was not at all away from the center of power. He was made the kingpin of NDA with the power to monitor ministries in guise of assessing manifesto implementation.

Despite this shrewd attempt of Vajpayee to enable Fernandes to wield power unfathomable enough to influence officials, the process of the proceedings of the commission of inquiry was so typical that it was felt impossible on part of bureaucracy to keep back any required document from the Commission when called for.

There was apprehension that admirers of Bishnu Bhagawat in the Navy and in the Ministry of Defense may help production of such documents before the inquiry commission that may jeopardize Fernandes.

Production of such documents before the commission may be withheld only by a Minister who can claim privilege over any document under his administrative control. Therefore, he decided to take over the Ministry of Defense without any further delay.

And, he was re-inducted by Vajpayee barely six months after he had to quit in March, 2001, in the same position of defense minister!

The Venkataswami Commission was in the midst of its probe on offenses exposed by tehelka.com. The Kargil Review Committee headed by K. Subrahmanyam, eminent defense study expert, appointed on 29 July 1999 to “(i) review the events leading up to the Pakistani aggression in the Kargil District of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir; and (ii) recommend such measures as are considered necessary to safeguard national security against such armed intrusions”, had submitted its report which was placed before the Parliament on 23 February 2000. This report had clearly shown as to how under Fernandes the defense intelligence and preparedness of the country had collapsed. The tehelka tapes had shown how under him and in his official residence defense-deal brokers and commission agents were having their heydays. He had no legitimacy to be re-inducted in the same post of defense minister, at least not before submission of its report by the Venkataswami Commission. But to the astonishment, dismay and embarrassment of the entire nation, Vajpayee reappointed him as the defense minister.

The Opposition refused to accept him as such and the world witnessed the unique and historical boycott Fernandes faced from the Opposition in Parliament.

Had there been an iota of political probity in Vajpayee, he would never have re-inducted Fernandes as the defense minister and after facing the Opposition boycott, would never have retained him.

But he re-inducted and retained him.

Why? What was his modus operandi? What was the compulsion? Vajpayee was questioned by the Press, was grilled by the Opposition, and was looked at askance by the people over these questions.

But he never answered, never clarified.

Did he succumb to blackmailing by Fernandes? If yes, what was his weakness that Fernandes was able to exploit?

Only a high power judicial probe can unveil the truth.

Till the truth is found out, speculations will continue. In fact speculations cannot be stopped.

People who love their motherland must try to know as to what was the secret bond between Vajpayee and Fernandes that prompted the former to make a farce of parliamentary accountability by misuse of his prime-ministerial prerogative in favor of a man who was considered even by his senior colleagues as a “liability”!

Vajpayee’s conduct in re-inducting Fernandes as defense minister and in retaining him in that position in utter disregard to disapproval thereof by the people, by the Press and by the Opposition was an instance of abnormality besides being an instance of misuse of prerogative.

Why Vajpayee, a very normal man known for unfailing wits, behaved so abnormally in favor of Fernandes?

Why the ablest leader of the right-wing BJP, once honored as the best parliamentarian of a year in India, willfully misused his prime-ministerial prerogatives for serving the purpose of a leader of the self-styled left-winger Samata?

The mystery is not yet solved.

But it is a cruel mystery.

And the mystery deepens in the context of Kagril.

The Kagril Review Report placed before the Parliament on 23 February 2000 fails to convince that there was a real war.

It reveals that the Committee had before it a lot of evidence that the Pakistani armed intrusion in the Kargil sector had come as a complete and total surprise to the Indian Government, Army and intelligence agencies as well as to the J & K State Government. The Committee did not come across any agency or individual who was able to clearly assess before the event the possibility of a large scale Pakistani military intrusion across the Kargil heights.

On the other hand, the Pak intrusion was half hazard.

A number of former Army Chiefs of Staff and Director Generals of Military Operations were near unanimous in their opinion that a military intrusion on the scale attempted was totally unsustainable because of the lack of supportive infrastructure and was militarily irrational, the Committee has noted while in course of observation harping on how, whatever be the circumstances, our surveillance posts were left unmanned.

So the Kargil war does not convince that it was a real serious war.

But this war helped Vajpayee in coming back to power and helped General Musharraf in becoming supremo of Pakistan. More intriguing is the fact that when the world had refused to recognise Musharraf as the new leader of Pakistan, it was only Vajpayee who had unreservedly recognized him and had felicitated him in India. Was there a secret pact between Vajpayee and Musharraf even before the mysterious Kargil war?

Mystery deepens over the fact that the Kargil war, held as India’s first video-war, had been followed by fake encounters in subsequent times. An example jumps from a June 2004 confession of some Indian soldiers that they had helped in staging fake encounters with Pakistani troops on Siachen in August 2003.

On 7 June 2004, Rifleman Shyam Bahadur Thapa had told a military court that he had not only demolished a fake “enemy-held” objective with a rocket launcher in August 2003, but also had acted as a Pakistani soldier killed in the action when video cameras were whirring away. He said that he had to do this at the behest of a company commander, Maj. Surinder Singh, who had asked him “to remove the jacket and cap and to lie there” (near the demolished objective).

Whether the order of termination and imprisonment passed against Maj. Singh was finally implemented or not is a different issue. But it established that he had documented the stage managed encounter to convince people that Pakistan had attacked us but under him our forces had annihilated the attacker. If anything, this was part of a fraud played on our people, whatsoever might have been its impact.

It also established that there was a climate in that terrain which was made congenial to fake encounters or wars when Fernandes was the defense minister and Vajpayee was in search of an escalade to fetch votes.

Then, was the Kargil war a fake war which Fernandes had organized to help Vajpayee get the escalade? Was it a secret between them two? Had Musarraf joined hands?

It cannot be ignored that Fernandes was known for his frequent trips to Siachen; at least 17 times is on records, during his tenure as defense minister. Was he really in sympathy with the soldiers or was he anxious to see that our defense personnel do not keep in mind the climate of such a fraud?

Answer is yet to be found out. Answer can be found out if modus operandi of Vajpayee’s patronization to Fernandes is openly inquired into by a team of experts including criminologists and psychologists.

Looking at Vajpayee’s illogical and disproportionate patronization to Fernandes in retaining his defense minister portfolio, notwithstanding the frauds, one is inclined to suspect that unless his modus operandi in continuing this patronization or his acquiescence into extending this patronization is inquired into, the gamut of the background of the defense-deal offenses that Fernandes is charged with, will not be fully discovered and hence the history of the relevant period shall remain blurred forever.

Therefore, in national interest, and in the interest of Indian sub-continent, Vajpayee should be inquired into in the context of Fernandes.

When this is the picture of Vajpayee’s governance, it is sad that, his birthday is made ‘Good Governance Day’. Under his umbrage, Pramod Mahajan, son of a low paid school teacher with a large family, had acquired more than 2000 crores of rupees, before succumbing to bullets of his own younger brother in feud over sharing the booty.

What sort of good governance these instances of dubiosity reveal?

Clearly a misleading leadership has taken over India.

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PAKI TERRORISM AND THE BANK OF TERROR-FUNDING: DR. SINGH EVEN TODAY SHOULD TELL THE TRUTH

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The tenth Lok Sabha in its first session was in debate over a motion moved by BJP’s Jaswant Singh on collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which was a Pakistani Bank of terror-funding and drug trafficking. The motion was discussed in our Lok Sabha, because, under the cover created by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) this dirty Paki Bank besides having shattered the depositors including various institutions and nationalized Banks of India that had obviously under Finance Ministry pressure invested massive money in it, had ushered in danger to our security. Hints to this were given in our posting on 4th.

The then Finance Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was exposed to have tried blackmailing tricks on George Fernandes to silent him on the question of who helped this dirty Paki Bank operate in India.
Starting his speech, Fernandes told the House that in order to “understand the ramifications of the issue”, which was “being debated upon in the House”, it should be the first thing to know, “why and how did this Bank made entry into the country and who gave permission for opening its branches”. Therefore, he said, he had written a letter to the Minister of Finance detailing why it was pertinent to know the facilitators of this Bank in India.

“In response to my letter”, Fernandes told the House, “The hon. Minister of Finance verbally unofficially communicated to me five minutes before the start of sitting of Lok Sabha, that if he gives reply to all the points raised in the letter then the previous Government, in which I was a Minister will come under clouds”.

Fernandes narrated in the House whatever he had told Dr. Singh. “I told him that I have always admitted that all Governments make mistakes. Some Governments make more and some make less. All Governments are bad. But some are worse than others”. In such circumstances, Fernandes told the House, he had requested the Minister of Finance “to bring all the facts to light”.

But Dr. Singh did not bring all the facts to light. Therefore, even after 26 / 11, we are groping in dark about how could the Paki terrorists organized the Mumbai attack.

The Lok Sabha debate shows us that Dr. Singh and his colleagues in Congress had tried to obstruct Fernandes from dwelling on facts germane to establishment of Pakistani terror network in Mumbai through BCCI and the role of Reserve Bank of India when Dr. Singh was its guiding spirit.

Attempts were made by senior Congress members like Digvijay Singh and Ministers like R. Kumarmangalam, Jagdish Tytler, Santosh Mohan Dev etc to obstruct Mr. Fernandes. As he protested and sought protections from the Chair, the Chairman said, “George Sahib, I know your trend of thought is broken a number of times”. But he could not control the Congress members who were determined not to allow Fernandes to proceed with his speech.

The attempt to stifle the discussion was so sharp and sinister that a member, Srikant Jena asked the Chairman, “Is this the way to conduct the House?” and riding over “interruptions”, the Chairman had to say, “Honorable gentlemen, I have been trying to regulate the debate with all the fairness at my command. I agree that Mr. Fernandes was frequently interrupted”.

Why was Mr. Fernandes “frequently interrupted”? It was because, facts quite uncomfortable to Congress were getting revealed.

Let us go to the debate.

Dr. Singh had told the House, “the intelligence agency had reported in 1988 that BCCI has made overtures for acquisition of property and is trying to enter the hotel and real estate business in Lucknow and Bombay in partnership with Amar Rizvi”. Fernandes wanted to know “the role of Shri Amar Rizvi in facilitating entry of this Bank into the country”. Dr. Singh agreed that there was such reports from the intelligence agency, but “nothing was found”. According to him, “The Reserve Bank of India scrutiny of BCCI, Bombay branch did not reveal financing/acquisition of real estate business/property.”

“Before the Reserve Bank of India came in, Mr. Finance Minister, the intelligence agency had come into the picture” and “the intelligence agency viewed this as a fraught on the security risk”, Fernandes reminded Dr. Singh citing from the Minister’s own statement.

But Singh’s version was very funny. The intelligence agency had wanted the matter “to be looked into” and hence “the Reserve Bank of India looked into this. And, they said that there was no truth in it”.
Slowly but steadily it was manifesting that the RBI was used to blur the intelligence report.

RBI was also used to bestow credibility upon BCCI.

The BCCI Bombay Branch Depositors Forum, C/o Bombay Cricket Association, in a document signed by four prominent persons such as Madman Mantri, President Bombay Cricket Association, M. R. Pai, President, All India Depositors’ Association, A. N. Parikh and A. Lobo, after holding a meeting of the forum, had noted that the RBI had been keeping a watch on the activities of the BCCI, as they do in the case of nationalized Banks and they have been issuing certificates. “Since the RBI has a reputation for adequately safeguarding through maintenance of substantial statutory reserves and through tight controls, the interest of the depositors of all Banks operating in India, none of us had an idea that we would be devastated by double blockage of our moneys” they had noted in the document.

Stressing on this document Fernandes had told the House, “In fact, it was the Reserve bank of India, which granted BCCI the license to operate in India and which audited its accounts”.

When the BCCI cheated innumerable Indian depositors by sudden closure of its operations, the employees earning wrath of the public, in a way to seek protection, had raised a case in the Bombay High Court vide Ordinary Original Civil Jurisdiction, Company petition No. 389 of 1991, wherein they had wanted to say that they cannot be held responsible for collapse of the Bank as that was functioning under strict scrutiny of the RBI, which was continuing to certify in its favor.
“We will rely upon the statement made by the Finance Minister of India on 7.8.91 that nothing illegal or irregular is found in the working of the Bombay Branch of the BCCI”. This is what they had told the Court.
Fernandes had told the House that the employees were the “poor Indians who had been employed by the Bank. They are no way at fault; they were merely working in the Bank for their livelihood. Today, they are jobless; yet they are not worried for their future. Rather, they have expressed their concern over the fate of the depositors, those who have taken loans from the Bank, those who wanted to take loans and those people, whose business has come to a grinding halt, as a result of the collapse of the Bank”.

Fernandes had further mentioned about the BCCI’s “advertisement blitzkrieg” offering huge interests. “Many innocent people and institutions got lured by these advertisements and deposited their money in the bank, in the belief that their money was in safe custody as the R.B.I. was issuing them certificates”, he pointed out.

To the embarrassment of the ruling Congress, Fernandes had hinted on a letter from the British Organization of Peoples of Indian Origin signed by a member of the Government of India’s Consultative Committee for N. R.I.’s investments, Sri Prafulla Patel, wherein it was also mentioned that Indian Citizens “had deposited about Rs. 10,000 crores in India and the U. K.” in this Bank making it clear thereby that Dr. Manmohan Singh’s assertion that the “Reserve Bank of India scrutiny of BCCI, Bombay branch did not reveal financing / acquisition of real estate business / property” was contrary to actual and was absolutely misleading.

The massiveness of misleading ingredients in Singh’s statement got exposed when it transpired that the State Bank of India in UK had given loan of 50 million dollars to BCCI. Fernandes wanted to know as to why this loan was given to the bank that was ill-famed as Pakistan’s terror-funding bank. He further alleged that the Syndicate Bank, once most successful amongst Indian Banks, had to suffer “a loss of about 200 million dollars due to the BCCI.”

In 1986 it had come to notice that some Indian companies operating from Isle of Man purchased shares of Reliance Company of the BCCI. worth Rupees two crores on the basis of share capital of 200 Pounds. The BCCI-Reliance company link was earlier revealed by Fernandes when he had told the House that in response to a letter he had addressed to Minister of Finance, “the reply was given by an official of the company and in response to that letter, M/s. Reliance Industries also wrote a letter”.

Let us take a break and look at how apolitical eyes had looked at BCCI.

SUNDAY magazine (25-31 August, 1991 issue) had noted that according to sources, “the Research and Analyses Wing (RAW) had at least from 1975 onwards consistently opposed the idea of allowing the BCCI to operate in India. Time and again, the Agency had advised the Cabinet Secretary and high-ranking politicians not to let the bank in. The intelligence agency’s advice was based on evidence that the then Pakistani owned BCCI was engaged in secretly funding the country’s nuclear programme”.

TIME magazine of April 1, 1991 had noted, “Nothing in the history of modern financial scandals rivals the unfolding saga of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. The twenty billion dollar rogue empire, the regulators in 62 countries shut down early this month in a stunning global sweep. Never has a single scandal involved so much money, so many nations or so many prominent people.”

According to journalist Lucy Komisar , it was “a dirty offshore bank that the then President Ronald Reagan’s Central Intelligence Agency used to run guns to Hussein, finance Osama bin Laden, move money in the illegal Iran-Contra operation and carry out other “agency” black ups. ……. Its corporate strategy was money laundering. It became the banker for drug and arms traffickers; corrupt officials, financial fraudsters, dictators and terrorists…..The money BCCI stole before it was shut down in 1991 — somewhere between 9.5 billion and 15 billion dollars — made its 20-year heist the biggest bank fraud in history.

Most of it was never recovered. International Banks’ complicity in the offshore secrecy system effectively covered up the money trail”.
Now let us go back to the debate.

Fernandes had quoted from the report of Enforcement Branch (EB) of the Ministry under Manmohan Singh that had said, “Another point that needs to be carefully examined in details is the source of funds provided by BCCI, London and EAB Hamburg, through the Colombo branch for purchase of shares of Reliance, on behalf of overseas firms. ….If detailed enquiries are made with the BCCI, London it may throw light as to how funds were received by BCCI, London for remittance to India for the above purpose and whom the interest/dividend and sale proceeds of debentures received from India on account of the overseas companies were actually disbursed. Such an enquiry may indicate the real persons, behind the transactions”.

That necessary inquiry was not done.

However, the EB had suspected some persons involved in India and abroad in purchase of Reliance share by NRI companies in Isle of Man and had insisted that they should be immediately interrogated and subjected to action under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. Fernandes had brought to Lok Sabha records their names as the government had failed to act upon the EB report. They were (1) Dhirubhai Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Ltd. (2) Vinod Ambani, Company Secretary of Reliance Industries Ltd. (3) C.H. Chowksi, one of the Directors of Prabhat Fabrics Private Ltd. Stallion Private Ltd. (4) Pankaj Ishwarlal Kapadia, Share Broker (5) D. Chaturvedi, Chartered Accountant and Share holders of Companies of Isle of Man, namely (I) Krishnakant Shah and his family members of UK (II) U.C. Khamani of Djbouti (III) Praful Shah of USA and Mr. P.S.W. Henwood, Constituted Attorney of Overseas Companies of Isle of Man.

Ambani and the pack thus exposed in the Lok Sabha, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s ministry was also exposed.

Fernandes dived into the background of EB report. “The money was taken out of the country by Reliance and brought by Padiyar through BCCI into the country”. Stumbling upon this nefarious network of black banking, convinced of stupendous illegality involved, the EB has suggested for immediate interrogation and inquiry under the FER Act.
“Has the inquiry been conducted? If so, the facts thereof? What action has taken or proposed to be taken by the Government in this regard?” Fernandes had asked. But Dr. Singh had preferred not to answer.

Fernandes had raised the issue of corporate take-over to show how BCCI was “acting as a conduit for shell companies to bring into the country unaccounted money for investment in selected Indian companies, and indulging in various sub rosa activities including financing the smuggling of arms and other contraband material”. He had questioned the taking-over of Larson and Turbo by Ambani Company. The credibility of this company was so low that, he said, “The financial Institutions run by the Government of India, Life Insurance Corporation, rusticated the elected member of Ambani family by convening the very first and special meeting of the company”.

L & T was working for the defense department of India and in other fields particularly in the field of atomic power. Its former chairman under an affidavit filed in Bombay High Court had complained that his and his family members’ signatures were being forged to take over the company. Disclosing this, Fernandes had asked, “Would you like to hand over this company in the hands of the Reliance, and to its owner, Shri Padiyar, who was directly linked with smuggling out the money from foreign countries and who was transacting the business of B.C.C.I. from London?”

Dr. Singh did not react to this.

But the Congress members did not desist from stifling the discussion.

Sri Somnath Chatterjee of CPI(M), who as Speaker would be ill-remembered by history as the man that betrayed his party in the matter of Manmohan Singh’s nuke deal with USA, had at that time contributed a well-documented discussion on the motion. “The main charges against BCCI includes defrauding depositors, giving out dubious loans to select customers, acting as conduit for terrorist activities and CIA operations and having played convenient bank for corrupt rulers of Third world to salt away their illegal wealth. There is a long list of accusations of bribery of the central banks of different countries, political authorities in various countries and acting as brokers in various shady deals” he had thundered, citing various documents including the News week that said, “The CIA had intimate knowledge of BCCI’s alleged dealings with terrorists, drug dealers and corrupt Government officials all over the world.”

Dwelling on BCCI’s connection with CIA and other networks of terror worldwide, Somanath had cited a Time magazine report that divulged, “The soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the resulting strategic importance of neighboring Pakistan accelerated the growth of BCCI’s geopolitical power and its unbridled use of the black network. Because the U.S. wanted to supply the mujahedin rebels in Afghanistan with Stinger missiles and other military hardware; it needed the full cooperation of Pakistan. By the mid-1980s, the CIA’s Islamabad operation was one of the largest U.S. intelligence stations in the world.” But the inquiry instituted in U.S. against such backdrop was limping. The Times magazine, attributing the information to a U.S. intelligence officer, had reported, “If BCCI is such an embarrassment to the U.S. that forthright investigations are not being pursued, it has a lot to do with the blind eye the U.S. turned to the heroin trafficking in Pakistan”. Similarly, in England also, because of the involvement of secret Service the investigations were being delayed by the Bank of England, Somanath had shown. It has been described as a ‘Cocaine Bank’ because of its large scale dealing in drugs and one of the biggest criminal enterprises in the world, Somanath had told the House quoting the Times magazine.

“BCCI has a definite role vis a vis funding the terrorist who have been smuggling arms into Pakistan which are being used in Punjab, Kashmir and other places”, he had stated.

“We are fighting with so much concern rightly in this country about terrorism; the whole country is now concerned about terrorism. Secessionism and terrorism, they are eating into the vitals of our country. Innocent people are being murdered. Innocent people are being kidnapped. What is happening in the country? I need not remind the hon. Members here. Everyone is highly concerned. I have no doubt about it. In such activities BCCI’s hands are seen. Therefore, should we not be extremely cautious, extremely careful and should we not revamp cur intelligence activities, particularly our economic intelligence activities, to find out what has really been happening?” He had asked.
“In that context”, Somanath had cried, “when we find that a new Branch was permitted to come up in 1983, certainly certain questions arise which I request the hon. Finance Minister to answer, because, the files are not with us. What prompted the Government to do it?” Had Dr. Singh honestly answered, the country might have been saved from terror attacks.

But he had stated, “As regards the points raised in this House in respect of reports alleging payments to Indian politicians and bureaucrats and financing of terrorist organizations by the BCCI (Overseas) Ltd., Bombay Branch, from the information available from the intelligence agencies and the Reserve Bank of India, there is no indication of specific instances or any definite information of that nature.”

What a cover up!

“Who has done this investigation, MR. Finance Minister? Has this investigation been done by your officers in the Reserve Bank? Will it be to their interest to disclose the facts?” Asked Somanath. “At what level the inquiry has been made by the Intelligence agencies? I would like to know who has made this inquiry. Where are the reports? Will you share them with the House if they are in favor of the BCCI?”

Manmohan did not answer.

“If nothing against the country’s interest has been found out, then share it with us and let us see those things”, Somnath demanded.

It was never shared.

On the other hand, the Congress had coined a secret pact with BJP to save its skin as in course of the debate the role of its leaders from Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi in helping this dirty Bank entering into India and spreading its nefarious activities had been exposed over and above unveiling of the patronization it was getting from the Ministry of Finance of the day.

To the greatest relief of Dr. Singh, the mover of the motion, Jaswant Singh had withdrawn the motion.

“In the chamber of the Speaker, …… the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and others and indeed the hon. Speaker said: why do you not concede to the fact that you would withdraw your motion at the end of the debate? So, I am bound by my word, and I seek the leave of the House to withdraw my motion” was the withdrawal statement of Jaswant.

Safe, being aware of the fate of the motion, Manmohan had told the House that he would look into the matter afresh.

“Whatever has been said on the floor of this House I would transmit to the Reserve Bank, to our intelligence agencies. I may also inform the House that I have appointed, rather the Reserve Bank have appointed M/s. Billimoria and Company to do a comprehensive audit of the activities of the Bombay branch (of BCCI) right from the date of its inception.

What had happened to that comprehensive audit? Who were the men behind the spread of the loot and terror network of that dirty Bank of Pakistan-CIA-Taliban combine in India?

When the Finance Minister of those days became the Prime Minister of these days, did he ever look at the report, if any, of audit that he had pronounced then in the Parliament?

Had the BCCI not acted as facilitator of Pakistani terrorism in India?

Should Dr. Singh not come up with the truth even today to save India from the pernicious grip of cross-border terrorism? Should our peoples not know who of the politicians and officials have betrayed them?

VAJPAYEE BE ENQUIRED INTO IN CONTEXT OF FERNANDES

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Central Bureau of Investigation has initiated prosecution against the Country’s former defense minister George Fernandes, who, in its probe-propelled opinion, is guilty of weakening our defense system through corruption.

Being in online journalism, it is a moment for me to celebrate because this is the first manifestation of major victory of internet media in India.

One is now reminded of the corrupt and scheming administration that Vajpayee had subjected the nation to.

Instead of acting against corruption, Vajpayee had made Tarun Tejpal and his team in tehelka.com, who had exposed that corruption, face enquiries on their method of locating news!

As is his wont, Fernandes is trying to divert public attention from his misdeeds by shouting that he is being prosecuted because of “that lady” Sonia. But in doing so he is showing his fidgetiness. Why he fidgets?

He is now bound to face the consequences of his involvement in corruptions in defense deals. The game of politics that he nastily played in the Parliament will not come to his rescue in the examination box of the concerned court of prosecution. There is no doubt in the fact that the CBI has taken a lot of time to spot his dubious deals. But it is indicative only of how shrewd is he in transacting venal ventures. Who can and for how long stop the truth from prevailing?

Tehelka tapes had made it convincingly clear that he had reduced his official residence to a dalali hub where his personal preference, the lady president of the political outfit he had formed, Ms. Jaya Jaitley was captured by camera while bargaining for and collecting bribe in the guise of donation to facilitate supply orders for defense materials. These tapes having knocked at the bottom, the CAG of India, in subsequent time, made a sample audit of defense expenditure and came out with more startling instances of corrupt practice in vogue in the Ministry of Defense under Fernandes. And, ultimately, now, the CBI has drawn up the charges.

The CBI has filed necessary FIR against Fernandes, Jaitley and former Navi Chief Sushil Kumar for alleged irregularities in purchasing of Barak system from Israel in 2000. When Fernandes maintains that the present President Mr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, during his tenure as Scientific Advisor to Prime Minister, had recommended the Barak system, reports reveal the opposite. According to these reports, Dr. Kalam had expressed doubts over the suitability of Barak. He even had written a letter to Fernandes in 1999 opposing the deal as the system had a 50 percent failure rate. But Kalam’s advice was ignored.

On the other hand, Bishnu Bhagwat, former Naval Chief, who was sacked by Fernandes in December 1998 because he did not favor the shady deal, has alleged that Fernandes was “highly interested” for the purchase and in order to eliminate obstacles, had gone inappropriately ahead to put his own man Sushil in the top most post of Navy. Against this backdrop, the FIR filed by CBI may be viewed as a better late than never step.

I will not, however, speculate on what would be the fate of this FIR.

But to me it occurs, justice cannot be arrived at unless enquiry is conducted into the conduct of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee vis-a-vis Fernandes.

If the later has any benefit from the unprecedented volume of purchase of defense materials in the name of Kargil war, the former had derived the principal source of his sustenance in power from the said war only.

Had there been no Kargil war, Vajpayee would never have become the third time Prime Minister of India.

In May 1999 he had lost his alliance majority after AIADMK withdrew its support at the summit of a year long misrule that was anti-people, anti-worker but pro-trader.

The Country was set to set a fresh mandate in October but due to misconceived notion of democracy, Vajpayee continued as a care taker P.M.

Normally he could not have bagged any decisive support as the people had got severely disillusioned. But an abnormal development helped him. That abnormal development was what is known as the Kargil war.

This war gave Fernandes the ground to go for questionable defense deals that are now under the scanner. This war gave Vajpayee a fresh mandate by mesmerizing people to look away from his misdeeds. This being the unread similarity between the two, one gets inclined to ask as to whether there was an extra-parliamentary link between them both? It needs to be investigated into.

The backhander deals in defense procurement video taped by tehelka.com were televised on 13th of March 2001. The whole nation was stunned. Allies of Vajpayee were ashamed of continuing their support to him. Pressure mounted on dismissal of Fernandes, but Vajpayee was reluctant to drop him or to ask him to quit. Mamata Banerjee resigned in disgust. The south Indian allies declared that it would be difficult for them to support the Government if Fernandes continues in the cabinet. Fernandes had to leave within a few days in March.

But instead of initiating action against the exposed culprits, a commission of enquiry was appointed under K. Venkataswami under the Commissions of Inquiry Act to probe into the modus operandi of Tehelka!

Fernandes played a pressure game. He did not make any remarkable allegation against the Opposition for the predicament he was thrown into. But his proteges were raising their master’s voice against Vajpayee. If their leader was not reinstated they would expose the Prime Minister and his Office (PMO), they were asserting in statements to the media.

Vajpayee succumbed to the circumstances and emitted such signals that bureaucracy which was going to provide the enquiry commission with necessary official information on the defense deals, got the impression that Fernandes was a man who was not at all away from the center of power. He was made the kingpin of NDA with the power to monitor ministries in guise of assessing manifesto implementation.

Despite this shrewd attempt of Vajpayee to enable Fernandes to wield power unfathomable enough to influence officials, the process of the proceedings of the commission of enquiry was so typical that it was felt impossible on part of bureaucracy to keep back any required document from the Commission when called for.

There was apprehension that admirers of Bishnu Bhagawat in the Navy and in the Ministry of Defense may help production of such documents before the enquiry commission that may jeopardize Fernandes.

Production of such documents before the commission may be withheld only by a Minister who can claim privilege over any document under his administrative control. Therefore, he decided to take over the Ministry of Defense without any further delay.

And, he was reinducted by Vajpayee barely six months after he had to quit in March, 2001, in the same position of defense minister!

The Venkataswami Commission was in the midst of its probe on offences exposed by tehelka.com. The Kargil Review Committee headed by K. Subrahmanyam, eminent defense study expert, appointed on 29 July 1999 to “(i) review the events leading up to the Pakistani aggression in the Kargil District of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir; and (ii) recommend such measures as are considered necessary to safeguard national security against such armed intrusions”, had submitted its report which was placed before the Parliament on 23 February 2000. This report had clearly shown as to how under Fernandes the defense intelligence and preparedness of the country had collapsed. The tehelka tapes had shown how under him and in his official residence defense-deal brokers and commission agents were having their heydays. He had no legitimacy to be reinducted in the same post of defense minister, at least not before submission of its report by the Venkataswami Commission. But to the astonishment, dismay and embarrassment of the entire nation, Vajpayee reappointed him as the defense minister.

The Opposition refused to accept him as such and the world witnessed the unique and historical boycott Fernandes faced from the Opposition in Parliament.

Had there been an iota of political probity in Vajpayee he would never have reinducted Fernandes as the defence minister and after facing the Opposition boycott, would never have retained him. But he reinducted and retained him. Why? What was his modus operandi? What was the compulsion? Vajpayee was questioned by the Press, was grilled by the Opposition, was looked at askance by the people over these questions. But he never answered, never clarified.

Did he succumb to blackmailing by Fernandes? If yes, what was his weakness that Fernandes was able to exploit?

Only a high power judicial probe can unveil the truth.

Till the truth is found out, speculations will continue. In fact speculations cannot be stopped.

People who love their motherland must try to know as to what was the secret bond between Vajpayee and Fernandes that prompted the Prime Minister to make a farce of parliamentary accountability by misuse of his prime-ministerial prerogative in favor of a man who was considered even by his senior colleagues as a “liability”!

Vajpayee’s conduct in re-inducting Fernandes as defense minister and in retaining him in that position in utter disregard to disapproval thereof by the people, by the Press and by the Opposition was an instance of abnormality besides being an instance of misuse of prerogative. Why Vajpayee, a very normal man known for unfailing wits, behaved so abnormally in favor of Fernandes? Why the ablest leader of the right-wing BJP, once honored as the best parliamentarian of a year in India, willfully misused his prime-ministerial prerogatives for serving the purpose of a leader of the self-styled left-winger Samata? The mystery is not yet solved. But it is a cruel mystery. And the mystery deepens in the context of Kagril.

The Kagril Review Report placed before the Parliament on 23 February 2000 fails to convince that there was a real war. It reveals that the Committee had before it a lot of evidence that the Pakistani armed intrusion in the Kargil sector had come as a complete and total surprise to the Indian Government, Army and intelligence agencies as well as to the J & K State Government. The Committee did not come across any agency or individual who was able to clearly assess before the event the possibility of a large scale Pakistani military intrusion across the Kargil heights. On the other hand, the Pak intrusion was half hazard. A number of former Army Chiefs of Staff and Director Generals of Military Operations were near unanimous in their opinion that a military intrusion on the scale attempted was totally unsustainable because of the lack of supportive infrastructure and was militarily irrational, the Committee has noted while in course of observation harping on how, whatever be the circumstances, our surveillance posts were left unmanned. So the Kargil war does not convince that it was a real serious war.

But this war helped Vajpayee in coming back to power and helped General Musharraf in becoming supremo of Pakistan. More intriguing is the fact that when the world had refused to recognise Musharraf as the new leader of Pakistan, it was only Vajpayee who had unreservedly recognized him and had felicitated him in India. Was there a secret pact between Vajpayee and Musharraf even before the mysterious Kargil war?

Mystery deepens over the fact that the Kargil war, held as India’s first video-war, had been followed by fake encounters in subsequent times. An example jumps from a June 2004 confession of some Indian soldiers that they had helped in staging fake encounters with Pakistani troops on Siachen in August 2003.

On 7 June 2004, Rifleman Shyam Bahadur Thapa had told a military court that he had not only demolished a fake “enemy-held” objective with a rocket launcher in August 2003, but also had acted as a Pakistani soldier killed in the action when video cameras were whirring away. He said that he had to do this at the behest of a company commander, Maj. Surinder Singh, who had asked him “to remove the jacket and cap and to lie there” (near the demolished objective).

Whether the order of termination and imprisonment passed against Maj. Singh was finally implemented or not is a different issue. But it established that he had documented the stage managed encounter to convince people that Pakistan had attacked us but under him our forces had annihilated the attacker. If anything, this was part of a fraud played on our people, whatsoever might have been its impact.

It also established that there was a climate in that terrain which was made congenial to fake encounters or wars when Fernandes was the defense minister and Vajpayee was in search of an escalade to fetch back votes. Then, was the Kargil war a fake war which Fernandes had organised to help Vajpayee get the escalade? Was it a secret between them two? Had Musarraf joined hands?

It cannot be ignored that Fernandes was known for his frequent trips to Siachen; at least 17 times is on records, during his tenure as defense minister. Was he really in sympathy with the soldiers or was he anxious to see that our defense personnel do not keep in mind the climate of such a fraud? Answer is yet to be found out. Answer can be found out if modus operandi of Vajpayee’s patronization to Fernandes is openly enquired into by a team of experts including criminologists and psychologists.

Looking at Vajpayee’s illogical and disproportionate patronization to Fernandes in retaining his defense minister portfolio, notwithstanding the frauds, one is inclined to suspect that unless his modus operandi in continuing this patronization or his acquiescence into extending this patronization is enquired into, the gamut of the background of the defense-deal offences that Fernandes is charged with will not be fully discovered and hence the history of the relevant period shall remain blurred for ever.

Therefore, in national interest, and in the interest of Indian sub-continent, Vajpayee should be enquired into in the context of Fernandes.