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News of the day – In Chanda Kochhar case, ED probe points…
- May 18, 2019
- Posted by: Shivam
- Category: NEWS Worth To Read
News of the day – PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi make final pitch for Lok Sabha polls
Both principal combatants, the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the challenger Congress, said they were on course to winning the people’s mandate to govern the nation for the next five years as the curtain dropped on Friday on a bitter and bruising campaign for the 17th general elections.
“The election has been amazing. Elections were held in a positive spirit. A government with full majority will come back after remaining in power for five years. This is probably happening after a very long time. This is a big deal in itself,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a press briefing — his first in five years — he attended with BJP president Amit Shah.
Modi, whose constituency Varanasi will vote on Sunday in the final phase of polling, declined to answer questions, which he diverted to Shah, but used the occasion to thank the people of India. “The people of India have been with me through ups and downs over the last five years.I thank the people for their love, respect and blessings.”
At the same briefing, Shah said the ruling dispensation would win more than 300 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha in an election he described as the most important ever fought by the BJP. It echoed a prediction by the PM at his final election rally earlier in the day.
Addressing journalists at the same time, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said he didn’t want to prejudge the people of India by commenting on the election outcome, summing up the campaign waged by his party.
“I am proud to say that we have fought Narendra Modi and BJP. We have protected the institutions of this country, which is our main duty, from Narendra Modi, the BJP, and the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh]. This fight was about protecting the Supreme Court, RBI [Reserve Bank of India], the Constitution and all the institutions that make this great country and give a voice to the people,” Gandhi said, noting that Modi hadn’t accepted his challenge for a debate on the controversial Rafale deal.
“We have given a good fight. Our strategy was to raise people’s issues and we effectively did it. We played A grade role of the Opposition. We incircled Modi and dismantled his idea.”
Gandhi’s senior colleague Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, was less taciturn than the party president in predicting the outcome of the election.
“Congress is going to have the maximum number of members in Parliament. We are looking to secure 273-plus seats this time, which is easily achievable for us. We have done it in the past, we will do it again,” Gandhi said in the Lok Sabha.
The end of the campaign, marked by the discourse suddenly veering towards Mahatma Gandhi, his assassin Nathuram Godse and the BJP’s controversial Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur’s praise of Godse as a patriot, set the stage for the seventh and final phase of polling on Sunday, in which 59 seats are up for grabs.
Campaigning in West Bengal, where nine Lok Sabha seats will be decided in the final phase, ended a day early because of clashes between ruling Trinamool Congress and BJP workers on Tuesday. The counting of votes and declaration of the outcome are set for May 23.
In the 2014 general election, the BJP won 282 seats and became the first party in 30 years to secure a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance won 336. The Congress, dogged by corruption scandals in the second term of the United Progressive Alliance government, was reduced to 44 seats – its lowest tally ever.
Modi, who kicked off the campaign in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, on March 28, ended it in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, on Friday.
At his 144th and final election rally, Modi summed up what he claimed was the nation’s mood. “From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Kutch to Kamrup, the whole nation is saying ‘Ab ki baar, 300 paar; phir ek baar, Modi sarkar,’” Modi said, expressing confidence the BJP will win over 300 seats.
“This Sunday when you go to cast your vote then you will be scripting history. After decades you will elect a majority government for a second time in a row,” Modi said. “When you press the Lotus button, within 5 seconds you become the owner of my five years. When you vote for lotus you are pressing the trigger to kill a terrorist.”
Modi also sought to link the places where he held his first and last rally on the campaign trail which he said had both inspired nationalism in India.
“My election campaign started from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. Now the last rally is happening in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh. From a historical perspective, there is a connection between Meerut and Khargone, which is often not noticed. Both the cities are associated with the 1857 War of Independence,” he said.
“In Meerut, Indian soldiers rebelled against the British and in Khargone, freedom fighter Bhima Nayak led a tribal agitation and attained martyrdom,” he said.
At a campaign rally in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi slammed the Modi government for its November 2016 decision to invalidate high-value banknotes, which he said had set back the nation’s economy. The Congress’s NYAY programme will jump-start the economy, he said.
His sister and Congress general secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi said at a rally in Mirzapur that Modi was the world’s greatest actor.
“It would have been better if you had elected (movie star) Amitabh Bachchan instead. Anyway, no one would do anything for you,” she said.
Apart from West Bengal, polling will be held on Sunday in all 13 seats in Punjab, as many seats in Uttar Pradesh, eight seats each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand, and the lone Union Territory seat of Chandigarh.
The gruelling campaign bordered on the virulent sometimes, with the primary contestants trading accusations on a daily basis, as they took each other on, no holds barred. Modi described Rahul Gandhi’s assassinated father, the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi , as “bhrashtachari No.1” (corrupt No.1) and the Congress chief’s most common slogan was “chowkidaar chor hai” (the watchman is the thief) to refer to Modi, using the PM’s description of himself as the nation’s watchman.
Both camps knocked on the doors of the Election Commission repeatedly with complaints of violations of the model code of conduct.
In Chanda Kochhar case, ED probe points to conflict of interest
An Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigation has revealed that former ICICI Bank managing director and CEO, Chanda Kochhar, already held shares in a private company, Credit Finance Limited (CFL), along with her family members and the Videocon Group when she became the executive director of the bank in April 2001 — a significant conflict of interest. It isn’t clear whether this was disclosed to ICICI Bank when Kochhar was named on the board or, indeed, to the Reserve Bank of India when she became CEO.
HT has reviewed a copy of an internal ED report, which states that CFL was held jointly by Chanda Kochhar and family (60% of shares) and Videocon (24.7% shares) since 2000-01. “She became executive director (of ICICI) in April 2001 and also held share of CFL along with other shareholders of the Kochhar group. Her husband Deepak Kochhar was the managing director of CFL till 2009,” the report said.
It is this company — earlier named Credential Finance Limited (incorporated in 1992), which was later merged into Bloomfield Builders and Construction Ltd in 1996 and renamed as Credit Finance Limited (CFL) — which bought Flat number 45, CCI Chambers in 1996 and later mortgaged it to Videocon International Limited. The Kochhars lived in this flat since 1997. In fact, ED adds in its report that when CFL defaulted a loan from SBI Home Finance, it was repaid by Videocon.
ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) started looking into a possible quid pro quo between Chanda Kochhar and the Videocon Group based on a whistleblower’s complaint that ICICI Bank loaned money to Videocon in return for Videocon Group chairman, Venugopal Dhoot, investing in Deepak Kochhar’s company. The bank initially cleared Chanda Kochhar of any wrongdoing based on an internal report, but as the investigation deepened, had to ask her to step down.
The ED report terms transactions related to this flat and parties involved in it as “unclean” and “in collusion”.
“The transactions relating to the sale and purchase of this apartment to the individuals and CFL and subsequent settlement among the conspirators i.e. CFL and QTAPL (Quality Techno Advisors Pvt Ltd, a Videocon company which had acquired the apartment, which was 100% acquired by a trust of Chanda Kochhar) are subject matter of thorough probe because parties of both sides in holding the title of apartment are unclean and in collusion also”, the ED report added.
The report further claimed that during her term as the MD-CEO of ICICI Bank from 2009 till 2018, Chanda Kochhar “is alleged to have not disclosed the directorship details of her husband to ICICI Bank), as per the norms under Banking rules”.
Her lawyer, Vijay Aggarwal, declined to comment. ICICI Bank did not respond to an e-mail from HT.
According to Section 184 of the Companies Act, every director of a company (both private and public) should disclose their interest or concern in a third party. Kochhar not disclosing the shares held by her in CFL is also against Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines, two banking experts said.
An ED officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “Chanda Kochhar didn’t inform the ICICI bank about her shareholding, her husband’s business interests and their connection with Videocon while she continued to be on several sanctioning committees of the bank which approved loans for the Videocon group companies.”
As first reported by HT, ED has expanded its probe against Kochhars and Videocon group in total 24 loans worth Rs 7,862 crore.
The ED has listed 24 companies which were or are run by the Kochhar group.
Chanda and Deepak Kochhar were questioned for the fifth day on Friday.
Source – The Hindu