The BJP on Wednesday alleged that “pressure or price” might have forced senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram to sign papers pertaining to allowing gold import rights to select private operators in 2014 May – when it was absolutely clear that the UPA dispensation would be voted out.
“Was there a price, was there pressure? Was there a consideration….If so what was the nature of the price or pressure? Or was there an obligation?,” BJP leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters referring to BJP’s earlier allegations that Mr Chidambaram gave his “blessings and benefits” under the 80:20 scheme to seven private jewellers in May 2014, on the day or a day before the results of Lok Sabha polls were announced.
These seven jewellers included Geetanjali and Star jewellers too, the BJP has alleged.
“It was a serious policy change,” he said and maintained these actions in fact had come from a person of Mr Chidambaram’s calibre and seniority who is pretty well aware of constitutional propriety and who had been a former Finance and Home Minister as well.
“Those traders who were prohibited from participating in the 80:20 Gold scheme were brought in,”the BJP leader accused suggesting jewellers Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi were given the benefits.
He countered Congress leader Anand Sharma’s remarks that to say Mr Chidambaram signed any paper on May 16, 2014 as absurd and said, “In fact, Mr Chidambaram was smarter than all of us and the paper was signed dated May 15, 2014”.
“Any person having a slightest consideration of democratic integrity, propriety and sanctity of democratic politics will never do that,” Mr Prasad said at the party headquarters directing his tirade against the former Finance Minister for allegedly signing a paper on May 15-16, 2014 – when the poll results – giving a resounding defeat to the Congress – had come or would be coming.
On the RBI role, the Union Minister made a veiled attack on the then RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan – of course without naming him – and said the regulator has claimed that the decision came “after consultation” with the Central government.
“On May 21, 2014, which government did the then RBI administration consult ?,” Mr Prasad wanted to know.Mr Prasad claimed that the files related to this major “policy change” moved at a “supersonic speed and crossed nine desks” within a day to finally get RBI approval for the decision on May 21, 2014 – when things were clear that Narendra Modi would be taking charge of the country on May 26, 2014.
“This file after the signature of Mr Chidambaram acquires supersonic speed, traverses through nine desks on the same day and on May 15, 2014 itself the Economic Affairs Department writes to RBI,” Mr Prasad said and also released two papers – one signed by Mr Chidambaram on May 15, 2014 and the other RBI order of May 21, 2014.
Mr Prasad explained that the impact of the RBI orders was such that the private operators needs to be helped and favoured and given “window” to import gold. This was against UPA government’s own decision of August 2013 when to deal with the Current Account Deficit the government had slapped ban on private import of gold.
The Law Minister said under this orders “rather doors were thrown” open for private players to import gold from “any port in the country”. “No verification was done and the companies were given the benefits even in retrospective effect,” he said.