By Aditya Amir
So who should hang from the rafters for the massive PNB Nirav Modi Scam – the UPA or the NDA? That is apart from nephew Nirav Modi and uncle Choksi and the one or two or scores of PNB officials who enacted the scam for the diamond merchants of India-New York-London-Antwerp-Hong Kong-Singapore-Macau-Malaysia… Clearly, unlike diamonds, scams cannot be ‘forever’.
Fact 1: The scam was detected only recently, maybe last year or early this year. Fact 2: The scam was running for years, definitely from 2011, probably from even earlier. Media reports say most of the “LOU renewals” were done in the past one year.
That being said, the world runs by ‘arrangements’ – between people and people; between people and entities and between entities and entities. And when ‘arrangement’ breaks down, all hell breaks loose.
That is what happened with the PNB-Nirav Modi Scam. There was a working arrangement between a PNB official and the Nirav Modi-Choksi duo. As long as the official was employed with PNB, the scam ran without hitch. But when he retired and left the building, never to return, the arrangement had to be renewed; with his replacement! Apparently, that did not work out. Maybe, the replacement refused to play ball. And the cat was out of the bag.
So, who should take the hit, the BJP or the Congress? The scam started during UPA-rule when India’s foremost economist was Prime Minister. The perpetrators fled during BJP-rule, when the one and only ‘Na Khaoonga Na Khaane Doonga’ politician was at the helm.
How about asking this: Can a son be hauled up for a murder committed by his father, just because nobody suspected the father and just before or just after the murder was pinned on him, the father departed to the other world?
The BJP can be hauled up for negligence, for being completely blind, not seeing what was happening under its nose for four years but the bigger crime is that of the Congress which refused to listen to a whistleblower, and during whose regime the scam – the arrangement was worked out, an arrangement which stood the test of time for a couple of reasons.
One, the illegal transactions were deliberately kept out of the computerized system. Two, the physical file was under lock and key in the lowest drawer of the conniving official’s desk. This is what the BJP is alleging, now.
Speaking for the government, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday the “entire might” of the State has been invoked to return the perpetrators to India, and the dock. That these steps were taken immediately after the scam was detected.
And involving and implicating the Congress, she alleged Congress President Rahul danced at a promotional event of a Nirav Modi franchise in 2013. More serious, Sitharaman said Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s wife Anita Singhvi owned shares in a Nirav Modi company of which she is also a director, and the Singhvi’s own ‘property’ a in a building owned by Dubai Holding, with some sort of Nirav link, adding that the Congress is misleading people.
Singhvi denied the allegation. “Will take Sitharaman and media to court,” said the Congress leader.
“Original sin in Nirav Modi fraud was committed in 2011. The Letters of Undertakings (LoU) hold good only for 90 days. But the accused PNB officer kept rolling the LoUs till he got retired. He didn’t put details in banking system which lead to no one detecting the scam,” Sitharaman said.
The Congress has blamed the Modi government for allowing the Nirav Modi family members to slip out of the country, one after another in a coordinated manner, proof that they were tipped off, most probably by PNB or government officials.
“The situation which has arisen today is because Chaukidar is sleeping. How can one say that the prime minister, finance minister did not know about the PNB fraud,” Congress leader-lawyer Kapil Sibal said. “And what was Nirav doing standing behind Modi in Davos?”
As the politicians quibble and squabble, think of the time when as kids most of us, brought up on a diet of ‘god punishes liars and robbers’, would if we stole a rupee seek pardon from all the 33 crore pantheon of gods, disgusted at our behaviour, sick to the stomach for committing a sin!
And, here is this robber baron and his family – crooks and bandits of the first order – firmly ensconced in a Manhattan hotel with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door! (IPA Service)