Skeletons Spilling Out
Clever are those who take pre-emptive measures to avoid ignominy later. And Priyanka Vadra is clever. As on May 16, it became evident that the impenetrable protective cover her family enjoyed was about to vanish with the rise of the BJP government, she moved fast to correct a particular financial adventure which she undertook when the Dynasty was above law. Priyanka Vadra quietly admitted to the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs that she had made multiple DIN applications, “due to inadvertent mistakes which were unintentional”. She submitted that since default under Section 266C is compoundable under Section 621A of the Companies Act, 1956, she would like to be let off with a fine.
In a letter to BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who had made a criminal complaint in the matter, the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs on May 16, the day the results of the 2014 elections voted the Congress-UPA out of office, stated that the matter was under examination. Another Congress scion Karti Chidambaram is also under cloud. The Ministry has said that scrutiny showed that the multiple DIN applications made by Karti Chidambaram were intentional and that the case prima facie attracts provisions of Section 266A of the Companies Act, 1956.
The Ministry’s Regional Director (NR) has been asked to seek explanations from Karti Chidambaram as per established procedure, within 15 days, after receipt of which further action, if any, would be decided. This seems to augur ill for the son of the former Union Finance Minister, who has compounded his spell of bad luck with defeat in the recent general elections. A ferocious hunter, Subramanian Swamy said that under the Companies Act, the multiple DINs of Priyanka Vadra and Karti Chidambaram were illegal as the Director Identity Number (DIN) is like a passport or driving licence number and aims to identify an individual’s multiple directorships in different companies to be collated for the purposes of compliance with the Income-Tax Act. Hence, having multiple DINs is a criminal offence and carries six-month imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000.
Also multiple DINs are possible only with multiple PAN numbers, which is also illegal. The Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs has found that both Priyanka Vadra and Karti Chidambaram are guilty of this offence. While Priyanka Vadra has admitted the offence and pleaded to be let off with a fine, the matter clearly warrants complete scrutiny of her financial dealings before the case is closed.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ website showed that Priyanka Vadra had applied for and received three DIN numbers (01038703, 01840144 and 02914391), which violates both the Company Act and the Income Tax Act. As her mother-in-law Maureen Vadra also has two DIN numbers (01840680 and 01839769), a scrutiny of their corporate dealings is clearly in order before they are allowed to surrender the identities and let off with fines. DIN is issued against application to be appointed as a director of a company, so the companies, against which the multiple numbers were sought, must be clearly identified and Income Tax authorities satisfied that no dues are pending. The related issue of multiple PAN numbers must also be clarified in the case of all persons found to be having multiple DINs. It bears noting that all these multiple identities must have been taken against different addresses, otherwise the Ministry would automatically detect the duplication and reject them. Other Congress leaders having multiple DINs include former Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid (02006329 and 02707104), former Minister for Corporate Affairs Sachin Pilot (01492084 and 01720862), Senior Advocate and Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi (00919369, 01282249, 01602963 and 01432612), former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh (01892589 and 01892590), and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and Rajya Sabha Member Motilal Vora (00494585, 00494926, 00589006 and 00628348).
Apart from Karti Chidambaram (01648557, 00952694, 01632067, 01204813, 01341858 and 01648562) and his mother Nalini Chidambaram (01732369 and 02770705), the offenders include DMK Rajya Sabha Member Kanimozhi Karunanidhi (01993765, 01994948 and 01520307) and former Minister Dayanidhi Maran (00548131 and 02353970).
Role of Modi’s PMO
The main thrust of planning and policy direction of Modi’s government would be based on Narendra Modi’s mantra of parivartan and vikas, which were also his electoral plank. The Prime Ministers Office (PMO) would thus be constituted against the backdrop of this mantra and would turn out to be most powerful, possibly more than what it was during the Rajiv era. Ronen Sen as joint secretary for foreign affairs in Rajiv’s PMO was given more importance by Rajiv than to K Natwar Singh, who was Minister of State External Affairs.
Naturally, there is much interest in the names likely to join the PMO now. Reports are that Modi has been holding consultations with key aides to give his Prime Minister’s Office. A media report said he envisages a central role of the PMO in decision-making on strategic issues, including national security, and direct oversight of critical infrastructure projects and administrative reforms. Modi wants to mould the PMO in a way that it could fast-track decisions through Delhi’s red-tapism and the legacy of a series of corruption scandals, which have singed some senior bureaucrats as well.
Modi knows that he has to show that development process is very much on to the young who, although were his biggest supporters, are impatient and believe in quick outcomes. One name doing the rounds is that of Shyam Saran, one of the most clear-headed foreign secretaries and that of either Amit Shah or Smiti Irani as minister of state.
Mauni Baba PM leaves behind…
Kamal Nath is lamenting that Manmohan Singh should have spoken more and talked about development and reforms undertaken by the UPA government. The people never came to know of the good work done by the government. Nath is right. But then if and when the mauni PM decided to break his silence and speak, not many people, unfortunately, could decipher what he said. This was not due to any fault of Dr Manmohan Singh. But he has gone out of the remote control of the Gandhis at the most appropriate time. Rahul Gandhi has successfully taken the party to the pits. Dr Singh would have been dragged too instead of now being ensconced in the comforts of the house at Motilal Nehru Road.
Kamal Nath is now the only face the party must project. He had been one of the Sanjay’s gang that created a situation for Indira Gandhi to come back. The present Mrs Gandhi, with all apologies, is not even on the fringes of the senior Mrs G’s acumen. All the tricks Nath knew then would be futile now.
He will be, said a young party MP, lucky to be re-elected—due to his own standing—better advised to collect all the young MPs and even those who failed to get back to the House, and give an impetus to the party. He kept maun on who all are responsible for the catastrophe. An unsolicited advice to the mauni baba at Motilal Nehru Road—you have nothing to lose, break your silence, at least through your pen. Unfold the reality! And earn the gratitude of all of us.