Demonetisation : letters to the prime minister Narendra Modi

Dr E A S Sarma, PhD
Master of Public Administration, Harvard, USA
Ph.D, IIT, Delhi
Formerly Secretary, Ministry of Power, Govt of India (1997-98)
Formerly Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Govt of India (1998-2000)
Formerly Principal, Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad (2001-04)
Presently, active in taking up issues concerning electoral reform, environmental conservation and protection of human rights

Letter on 04.12.2016

Shri Narendra Modi
Prime Minister

Dear Shri Narendra Modiji,

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 on a 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 extravagance?

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.

Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to GOI

Letter on 06.12.2016

Shri Narendra Modi
Prime Minister

Dear Shri Narendra Modiji,

My last letter addressed to you was dated 4-12-2016. Copies of my correspondence on the subject are enclosed for your ready reference.

The latest report that Ramesh Gowda, a driver of Gali Janarshana Reddy, who had celebrated his daughter’s wedding in pomp and style, despite all the cash restrictions you announced on 8-11-2016, committed suicide, leaving a suicide note indicating the fact that Shri Reddy had laundered more than Rs 100 crores for celebrating the marriage, in defiance of the harsh restrictions imposed by you and your colleagues in the government. What distresses me is that, despite my cautionary letters addressed to you, the Finance Minister, the Union Revenue Secretary, the Enforcement Director and Director, CBI, all the central agencies seem to have deferred raids on Shri Janardhana Reddy’s premises till he had successfully laundered the black cash holdings and allowed the local officers to give him a “clean” chit.

Many of your colleagues in BJP and several other political leaders had attended the wedding and there was not even an advisory from the NDA parties to their members not to attend the function. Those like me, standing in serpentine

queues in front of banks, wonder whether you have a separate set of rules for the likes of Janardhana Reddy and another set for the suffering common man/ woman on the street!

Though the Income Tax authorities had raided small businesses and traders post-demonetisation, not one of them had the courage to raid the premises of Janardhana Reddy, or Gadkari who too has celebrated a similar wedding in great extravagance.

I request you to ponder over this earnestly.

Were the local senior officers of CBDT “honoured” guests at the lavish weddings celebrated by Gali Janardhana Reddy, Mahesh Sharma and Gadkari recently? Did they compromise their role as investigators and watchdogs by attending those marriages?

Did any of these celebrity, Super-Citizen, political leaders indulge in money laundering and whether officials, especially bankers, were hand-in-glove with them?

Did the Income Tax officials who have apparently given a clean chit to Gali Janardhana Reddy, as already reported, fail in their duties by not conducting surprise inspections prior to the wedding, thereby giving Reddy enough time to efface the evidence necessary to prosecute the culprits?

Did CBDT/ ED investigate the so-called “Singapore” property referred by Gali Janarsdhana Reddy in one of his statements to the press to explain away the source of funds for the more-than-Rs 500 Crore-wedding?

Mr. Modiji, while the demonetisation mission launched by you is a commendable step forward, if it is established that

your government is complicit in letting the money launderers off the hook, the credibility of what you have done in the name of demonetisation will certainly come under public scrutiny. I am afraid that the overwhelming presence of some of your own colleagues at these weddings did force the officials to go soft on investigating the possibility of black money being used at these lavish weddings.

May I demand quick action even at this belated hour to demonstrate your willingness to fight the black money hoarders. If the Central government takes the stand that it is for the State govt to take action in such matters, as is the usual approach adopted by your Ministers, it may not in anyway reinforce public confidence in what you say and do.

I have separately asked the Karnataka govt to order an independent investigation into the suicide committed by Shri Ramesh Gowda, the driver who had apparently witnessed Gali Janaradhana Reddy laundering his black money.

Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to GOI

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