Man Who Saved Modi in Corruption Cases Gets Plum Position

Narendra Modi (file photo). Courtesy: PIB
Narendra Modi (file photo). Courtesy: PIB

Under Chowdary, the CBDT was investigating into the Birla-Sahara papers that allegedly indicated that Modi accepted bribes in excess of Rs. 55 crore.

By Rakesh Raman

K.V. Chowdary – who recently retired as the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) which is India’s top anti-corruption organization – has been hired as additional director on the board of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) led by Mukesh Ambani.

Ambani is a close capitalist friend of India’s Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi, who has been embroiled in multiple corruption scandals. As the CVC of India, Chowdary intervened to get all investigations against Modi dropped.

In the $4-billion Rafale corruption case – in which Modi was the prime accused – Chowdary ignored the complaints and the case never reached the investigation level.

It is alleged that Modi – who is a public servant – misused his position as PM of India to give undue benefit in Rafale deal to his close associate Anil Ambani who is the Chairman of Reliance ADA group of companies and brother of Mukesh Ambani.

When the complaint reached India’s top investigating agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Chowdary conspired to get CBI director Alok Verma removed from his position surreptitiously.

The New York Times (NYT), the world’s top newspaper based in the U.S., said in its article that Modi’s opaque arms deal has raised some serious questions. The article headlined “With ‘Fishy’ Jet Deal, India’s Opposition Finally Lands a Blow on Modi” appeared in NYT.

It raised questions such as why Modi renegotiated a deal for 36 fighter jets and why a company run by a wealthy family (Ambani family) was chosen to participate in the deal while it had no experience of building jets. The NYT article also asked why the costs of the planes seemed to jump so much and why Modi is not sharing more details on the Rafale deal.

Earlier, as the chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT), Chowdary saved Modi in the Birla-Sahara corruption case. Under Chowdary, the CBDT was investigating into the Birla-Sahara papers that allegedly indicated that Modi accepted bribes in excess of Rs. 55 crore during his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat.

Reports also suggest that the former CBI director Ranjit Sinha had also investigated Chowdary’s role in a high-profile investment fraud case, known as the Stock Guru scheme.

When Modi became the PM of India in 2014, Chowdhary was gifted the post of CVC in 2015. However, his selection was challenged in the Supreme Court for his controversial roles in corruption and other cases. But a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra – who is also believed to be close to Modi – dismissed the case and Chowdhary was appointed the CVC. The less said about the Indian courts, the better.

The Congress party in India – which led the charge against Modi’s alleged corruption in Rafale deal – had demanded the removal of Chowdary from the CVC position, accusing him of acting as “a vigilant slave” of the Modi government.

“Till now we had heard the CBI is a ‘caged parrot’, now we have a new vigilant slave of government who is acting as collaborator for violating the Constitution,” said Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi, adding that Congress seeks immediate removal Chowdary.

Under Chowdary’s tenure as the CVC, bureaucratic and political corruption increased manifold in India. Now, corruption is so rampant in all parts of India that it has become a non-issue in the government circles.

There are, however, some meek murmurs about Chowdary’s appointment in Ambani’s company. “Someone who was CVC, now is a director on the board of India’s biggest company! There should be an investigation into all decisions he took, relating to this company. This (Modi) government enables its cronies to get richer at public’s expense,” said CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Meanwhile, Vigilance Commissioner Sharad Kumar is working as the interim CVC while a new incumbent will be selected by a committee headed by PM Modi.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of the humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications on different subjects.

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Rakesh Raman