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Sack Jaitley over bank frauds, collusion with fraudsters: Congress

“Arun Jaitlie’s daughter was on the payroll of thief Mehul Choksi. Meanwhile her Finance Minister daddy sat on his file and allowed him to flee. She received money from ICICI a/c no: 12170500316,” Gandhi tweeted.

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New Delhi, Oct 22 L Intensifying its attack on the Modi government over bank frauds, the Congress on Monday demanded sacking of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for “allowing” bank frauds to the tune of Rs 90,000 crore and “letting” fraudsters like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi to flee the country.

Calling for Jaitley’s resignation, Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleged that the Finance minister’s daughter Sonali Jaitley was “on the payroll” of fugitive Mehul Choksi, wanted in Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

“Arun Jaitlie’s daughter was on the payroll of thief Mehul Choksi. Meanwhile her Finance Minister daddy sat on his file and allowed him to flee. She received money from ICICI a/c no: 12170500316,” Gandhi tweeted.

Taking the fight to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jaitley, Congress leader Sachin Pilot said that under the Bharatiya Janata Party government “an unprecedented 19,000 bank fraud cases involving Rs 90,000 crore” have taken place.

“At least 23 bank fraudsters have left India under their watch after duping the country by over Rs 53,000 crore.

“The successive escapes of Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and others reflect that the Modi government is not a guardian of public money but a travel agency facilitating fraud, fleece and fly to foreign shores by wilful bank defaulters,” Pilot told the media here.

Pilot questioned as to why Sonali Jaitley’s legal firm accepted retainer fee from Choksi despite the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance and Corporate Affairs Ministry as well as various investigative agencies being aware of the fraud by Nirav Modi and Choksi.

“Sonali Jaitley and son-in- law, Jaiyesh Bakhshi proceeded to accept a retainership from Choksi’s fraudster company in December 2017. A sum of Rs 24,00,000 was also received by them.

“This amount was redeposited on Feb 20 2018, well after both Nirav Modi and Choksi had fled the country,” said Pilot.

“These are the people (Modi and Jaitley) who were officially helping the fraudsters, legally safeguarding them and politically protecting them to escape and run away,” said Pilot demanding both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister to speak up.

Alleging it to be a clear-cut case of “collusion, connivance and conflict of interest”, the Congress questioned why Jaitley, his daughter and son-in-law have not been summoned or questioned by CBI and other agencies probing the scam.

The Congress demanded to know why action was not against Choksi and Nirav Modi despite multiple FIRs and complaints and also who facilitated their escape from the country.

Prime accused in the PNB fraud case, Nirav Modi and Choksi are under probe by both the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.

India

Opposition requests President to return farm Bills for reconsideration

After the meeting senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “the govt did not have the numbers and our request for division was ignored and even the resolution against the Bill was not allowed”

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Ram Nath Kovind

Opposition leaders met President Kovind on Wednesday and apprised him of the circumstances amid which the Farm Bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday. They requested him to return the Bills for reconsideration to the House.

After the meeting Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “the government did not have the numbers and our request for division was ignored and even the resolution against the Bill was not allowed.”

The opposition said that the government ignored the demand for sending the Bills to a select committee.

Ahead of this meeting, the Congress and other opposition parties continued to protest in the Parliament complex here on Wednesday.

The protesting lawmakers marched from Gandhi’s statue in the complex to BR Ambedkar’s statue within the premises to register their protest while carrying placards.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “All MPs of the Congress and like-minded parties are marching from the Gandhi statue to the Ambedkar statue in Parliament to protest against anti-farmers and anti-workers Bills rubber stamped in Parliament in the most undemocratic manner by the Modi government.”

Earlier, the opposition leaders met in the chamber of Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and decided to continue their protest over the Farm Bills.

The opposition and the government are at loggerheads ever since the two farm Bills were passed amid a ruckus in the Upper House on Sunday. The third contentious Bill on essential commodities was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

On Sunday, pandemonium broke out in the Upper House as the opposition protested over the two Farm Bills. Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien even approached the Chair and tried to snatch a mike while citing the rule book.

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Navy’s capabilities hit by PSUs’ lack of expertise, delays: CAG

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MiG 29K Indian Airforce

New Delhi, Sep 23 : The Indian Navy does not have adequate auxiliary vessels, landing platform docks, fleet tankers and cadet training ships, government’s financial watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said on Wednesday.

It also said that the navy is facing problems due to inordinate delays in the acquisition process and lack of expertise of defence public sector undertakings (PSUs).

The CAG’s audit report on Defence Services, Navy and Coast Guard was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

In its performance audit on efficacy of auxiliary vessels — vessels designed to operate in support of combatant ships and other naval operations — in the Indian Navy, the government auditor stated that their strength was not increasing commensurately with the increase in the combat fleet.

“In fact, it was declining,” it said.

The planned targets for acquisition of auxiliary vessels could not be achieved due to inordinate delays in acquisition process, specifically, non-adherence to the prescribed timelines in conclusion of contracts, it said, pointing out that this was principally on account of lack of expertise of defence PSUs and non-assessment of capability of shipyards.

On assessment of landing platform dock (LPD), CAG stated that the existing capability of the LPD, which is used to transport troops, defence equipment, helicopters and vessels into a war zone, was found to be inadequate to meet requirements of amphibious and expeditionary operations.

The Indian Navy had decided to acquire this vital warfare ship in October 2010 at a cost of Rs 16,000 crore.

However, even after nine years, the contract has not been concluded.

“This was due to failure to fix a specified time frame for obtaining a Corporate Debt Restructuring exit certificate by one of the participating firms,” the report stated.

On fleet tankers, the CAG stated that due to the inadequate availability of fleet tankers, the Indian Navy was thus forced to hire ships from trade and these vessels are used for providing fuel, water, ammunition and stores to the fleet at sea.

The approval for acquisition of fleet tankers to a force level at a cost of Rs 9,045 crore was accorded in 2014. However, the contract was yet to be concluded till August 2019.

The CAG also stated that Indian Navy did not possess enough cadet training ships, and “therefore, converted normal fleet ships to training ships” but the “converted vessels, however, experienced severe limitations in operations”.

The contracts concluded (June 2011 and November 2012) for acquisition of three cadet training ships did not fructify and bank guarantees worth Rs 324.73 crore were yet to be encashed.

The audit also observed that there was loss due to irregular stepping-up of pay of sailors.

System-driven mass stepping-up of pay of 21,089 sailors was carried out by the Naval Pay Office between 2009 and 2011 by misinterpreting the rules and side-lining the relevant pre-audit checks.

“The wrong stepping-up of pay which was reverted in 2017 led to overpayment of at least Rs 22.70 crore. Incorrect fixation of pay and pension is not yet completely rectified,” it said.

It also stated that simulator and training aids were procured at a cost of Rs 120.66 crore in July 2015, and certain defects were noticed in the training aids but these were not rectified.

The training aids, therefore, could not be commissioned. Training was, therefore, imparted to pilots directly on Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers in live sortie flying mode, it said.

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CAG picks holes in Railway’s elaborate plans for Kumbh Mela

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Prayagraj, Kumbh 2019

New Delhi, Sep 23 : The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India on Wednesday pointed out various shortcomings in Railways’ elaborate plans to control rail traffic during the Kumbh Mela in 2019.

In the report tabled in both Parliament, the government auditor slammed the railways for failing to address issues such as running of special trains, works related to passenger amenities and safety, medical facilities to passengers, and waste management at station premises during the massive religious gathering.

It said that this led to inconvenience to passengers, who were not adequately addressed by the railways.

“Temporary fencing at vulnerable locations (track and station entry point) were not completed. This led to cases of free movement of cattle on tracks and passengers trespassing. Audit noted that the Railway estimated (September 2018) an evacuation of 33 lakh passengers, which was subsequently revised (December 2018) to 45.48 lakh. Railways initiated a figure of 73.66 lakh evacuation of passengers during Mela period,” it said.

It also noted that the Railways planned 821 special trains, but ran only 565.

“A significantly higher number of passengers, with fewer special trains resulted in large overcrowding of trains and caused much inconvenience to passengers,” it said.

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