Former IA S officer, EAS Sharma has in an anguished letter to prime minister Modi demanded to know whether this government operates on double-standards, and whether is one set of rules for NDA Ministers and another for the common Indian citizen. Will the Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate investigate these lavish affairs that took place in the weeks followinf de-monetization?
Specifically, he has flagged the issue of the rather obnoxious report that states that “50 chartered planes will ferry VVIPs for Nitin Gadkari’s wedding” (Hindustan Times, Sunday, December 4, 2016).
And another similar rather lavish wedding celebrated by Minister Mahesh Sharma. Are there one set of rules for the privileged in Modi’s orbit and another for the common ma on the street, the former secretary in the government of India, demands. BJP strongman and Modi aide who is also the party president, Amit Shah along with minister for home affairs in the Modi cabinet, Rajnath Singh were invitees to this gala affair.
Courtesy: Amar Ujala
Demanding a full-fledged investigation by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI, Sharma also asks to know who are the influential members of the RSS and bJP who attended these lavish affairs. He has stated in his communication to the prime minister that if there is no action, he would be compelled to seek judicial intervention. Former secretary in the government of India, the now retired IAS officer has in previous communications to the prime minister, dated November 12, 2016 and November 16, 2016 flagged the crucial issue of benami landholdings and other forms of black money that needed to be the target since only 6 per cent of the cash in circulation was from undisclosed sources of income. He had, in these letters also pointed to the ruling BJP's hypocrisy on the issue of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCR Act) where it had brazenly amended the law through executive action to allow foreign corprations to donate to itself, a political party. Further he had also raised the crucial issue of a publis sector bank, the State Bank of India (SBI)'s billion dollar loan to the controversial Gautam Adani group, well known to be one of the key funders and supporters of the prime minister, even accompanying him on offical trips abroad.
The poor in India have faced unimaginaeable hardships with the government’s ill-planned decision to de-monetize the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes without due notice or planning. As a result of the prevailing cash crisis, many families have put off their scheduled weddings. Many other weddings have broken down. But, Gali Janardhana Reddy, Mahesh Sharma and Gadkari feel no crisis whatsoever, as they seem to have the blessings of bigwigs from both BJP and the NDA, says the former bureaucrat. While Modi’s Ministers are indulging in such unhealthy extravagance, is it not ironic that the prime minister himself –in election meeting after election meeting –is busy exhorting the common man to stand in queues to uphold your grandiose mission to fight against black money, he further demands?
The brazen actions of these central ministers and VVIPs not just flaunt their wealth and mock at the public at large. Are we living in a civilised society, Mr Modi, asks Sharma?
Demanding that the Enforcement Directorate to investigate the source of every rupee that these Super-Citizens have spent and the cash component of every expense they have incurred, he ahs also made public a letter sent to Karnal Singh, Director. Enforcement Directorate. This letter may be read here.
Sharma’s letter to Narendra Modi may be read below:
Dear Prime Minister,
I enclose two news reports, one that appeared today in Hindustan Times on “50 chartered planes to ferry VVIPs to Nagpur for Gadkari’s daughter’s wedding”, and the second in today's Times of India, “Weddings put off as families struggle to tide over crash crunch”
Apparently, there is one set of rules and standards for NDA Ministers (please see my letter addressed to the Enforcement Directorate, forwarded here ona similar wedding equally lavishly celebrated last week by your Minister Mahesh Sharma,) and another set of rules and standards for the common man on the street.
As a result of the prevailing cash crisis, many families have put off their scheduled weddings. Many other weddings have broken down. But, Gali Janardhana Reddy, Mahesh Sharma and Gadkari feel no crisis whatsoever, as they seem to have the blessings of bigwigs from both BJP and the NDA. While your Ministers are indulging in such unhealthy extravagance, is it not ironic that you yourself should exhort the common man to stand in queues to uphold your grandiose mission to fight against black money?
Those that stand in the queues like myself feel that your intentions are great and temporary inconveniences should be ignored. At the same time, we feel perplexed to find no Janardhana Reddy's, Mahesh Sharma's and Gadkari's in the queues. Adding insult to injury, they flaunt their wealth and mock at the public at large. Are we living in a civilised society, Mr Modi?
I am asking the Enforcement Directorate to investigate the source of every rupee that these Super-Citizens have spent and the cash component of every expense they have incurred. I am not sure whether the Enforcement Director has the authority or an inclination to carry out an impartial investigation, as the numerous cases of overseas accounts standing in the names of some of your Chief Ministers brought to their notice by me, are yet to be investigated by the Central investigation agencies till now.
I do not think that any marriage in the West can boast of 50 chartered flights being arranged as it seems to be the case with Gadkari.
Are these chartered flights paid for by the corporate houses? Who are those corporate houses? Are there quid pro quos involved? How many Five-Star rooms have been booked on behalf of Gadkari at Nagpur? How many air-conditioned cars are deployed to ferry the VIPS to and fro? Who has paid for the same? What was the expenditure incurred on the wedding celebrations?
Have Gadkari and his associates withdrawn cash from banks at the expense of all those languishing for days in long serpentine queues in front of banks and ATMs?
Are the local senior Income Tax officials have already compromised their position by attending the wedding reception as honoured guests?
Who are the NDA, RSS and BJP bigwigs who attended the wedding and endorsed the
This calls for a full-fledged investigation, Mr. Modi.
I am marking a copy of this letter to Hasmukh Adhia, the Union Revenue Secretary so that he may feel that he too has the obligation to order an investigation into this conspicuously celebrated Gadakari wedding, especially at a time when his Department is harassing small jewellers and petty contractors in the name of "tightening" the noose around the necks of "black marketeers".
I believe that in a democracy like ours, we need an explanation on this questionable wedding from the highest level in your government. I believe that the CBDT and the Enforcement Directorate should investigate and report on this. The public at large have not yet fully digested the initial "clean" certificate provided by the Income Tax Department on the details of Gali Janaradhana Reddy's spending on his daughter's wedding. This has certainly eroded the credibility of your government in regard to the demonetisation measures.
If you do not act quickly and firmly on these letters of mine, I will be constrained to seek judicial intervention, as every citizen in this country has the right to question the basics of governance.
I am circulating this letter widely to generate a public discussion and a debate on NDA's true stance on profligacy and conspicuous expenditure in the context of demonetisation.
E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to GOI