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Welcome to the Indian National Congress Bank

Welcome to the Indian National Congress Bank

Author: Ritu Sarin
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 6, 2007
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/30226.html

Introduction: Sneaking past guidelines, UPA Govt crams boards of public sector banks with party loyalists as independent directors: 33 of the 37 appointed so far are the party's favoured, trusted

Independent directors on the board of Government banks have a key role to play: not only are they supposed to bring in expertise, their presence, as impartial monitors, is meant to signal trust to shareholders against corporate misgovernance.

For the UPA government, it seems, this doesn't terribly matter.

Records investigated by The Sunday Express show that the Government has crammed at least 33 of the 37 positions for independent directors (called "non-official" directors, in banking parlance) with men and women known for their allegiance to the Congress party: at least five secretaries of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), a vice-president and a secretary of the All India Mahila Congress (AIMC) and the Sewa Dal - politicians who have lost elections or loyalists to whom the party wishes to dole out a favour.

It couldn't be more brazen. For, in October 2005, The Indian Express had first exposed how seven Congress politicians were appointed as "independent directors" in these PSU Banks for a three-year period. Since then, the Congress takeover of this crucial position is virtually complete.

Ironically, the Department of Banking had prepared a list of top-notch professional experts who could have been appointed as directors. This list was ignored.

According to guidelines framed by the UPA soon after it came to power in 2004, an independent director will "ordinarily" be appointed from among those who have special academic training and experience in the fields of marketing, information technology and industry. The guidelines also stipulate that he/she should "at least be a graduate" but that educational qualifications may be relaxed with the approval of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet in the case of "farmers, depositors and artisans."

It's under this category of "artisans" that several of the appointees, described in official files, as "social workers" have been given a relaxation.

Chairmen of several PSU banks contacted by The Sunday Express are categorical in their criticism. Said one who did not wish to be identified: "In the age of cutting-edge competition, banks need highly specialised directors who have excelled in fields such as micro-finance, information technology and rural banking. We hardly need those who have to be accommodated by the ruling party since they have lost elections."

Complained another: "We have no objections to some politicians being appointed. But they should be politicians with a background in finance and banking and not a single one in my bank meets this qualification."

When contacted, Amitabh Verma, Joint Secretary in the Department of Banking, said that his department's role was limited to sending lists of recommendations to the Ministry and issuing notifications for the selected directors. "Nobody has been removed from the boards prior to the completion of his or her tenure," he said. "All the current non-official directors have been appointed against vacant positions and any relaxation to the new guidelines have the approval of the ACC."

The appointment of each NOD is cleared by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC), which means that the Prime Minister's approval is sought in each case. The procedure is a lengthy one. Whenever a vacancy or a batch of vacancies arises, the Department of Banking prepares a master list of all VIP requests/individual requests and sends it to the Finance Minister. Each appointment file is then routed through the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the Home Ministry and the Cabinet Secretariat before reaching the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

These directors are appointed for a three-year period and are entitled to a Rs 5,000 fee for every Board meeting they attend (roughly eight in a year) and an additional Rs 2,500 for every sub-committee meeting. Perks include travel and accommodation for each board meeting.

The Independent (Faithful) Directors:

o Ram Chandra Khuntia, ANDHRA BANK, One of the 32 secretaries of the All India Congress Committee. Was Congress Rajya Sabha MP until 2004.

o Masarrat Shahid. BANK OF BARODA. Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh. Contested 2003 Assembly elections from Sironj.

o Maulin A Vaishnav. BANK OF BARODA. Chief of the Congress Sewa Dal in Gujarat

o Prabha K Taviad. BANK OF INDIA. Gujarat Pradesh Mahila Congress Secretary, appointed Vice President of the All India Mahila Congress in 2006. Lost the April 2004 election from Godhra.

o Shantaben Chavda. BANK OF INDIA. Former Gujarat Mahila Congress President. An ex-MLA who lost the 2002 Assembly elections from Rajkot (rural), now Vice President of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress.

o A Ali Azizi. BANK OF MAHARASHTRA. Former member of the Rebublican Party who joined the Congress in 2001 and was appointed secretary of the party's OBC wing. Lost the 1995 Assembly elections from Nehru Nagar.

o Pankaj Gopalji Thakkar. CANARA BANK. A contractor whose mother Ushaben Thakkar was a former Congress MP from Gujarat. In 2004, Thakkar formally joined the Congress and helped with the general election campaign in Gujarat.

o Maj (retd) Ved Prakash. CENTRAL BANK OF INDIA. Secretary, AICC.

o Harish Chandhok. CENTRAL BANK OF INDIA. No formal post in the Congress but known to be a close associate of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Dijvijay Singh.

o Satya Behn. CENTRAL BANK OF INDIA. Former Congress MP, special invitee in the Congress Working Committee.

o Romesh Sabharwal. CENTRAL BANK OF INDIA. Member of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, was appointed chairman of the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation.

o Indu Singh Pawar. CENTRAL BANK OF INDIA. Secretary of the All India Mahila Congress in charge of Orissa and Meghalaya, previously on board of Indian Oil Corporation.

o G Charath Chandran. INDIAN BANK. South Arcot District Student Congress President, Taluk Congress Committee President and the district Seva Dal Chairman, then Nagapattinam District Congress President.

o Nafisa Ali Sodhi. INDIAN BANK. Was fielded by the Congress against Mamata Banerjee in 2004. Has been executive committee member of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee and chairman of the Congress Human Rights Commission (South Delhi). She heads the Children's Film Society of India.

o Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy. INDIAN BANK. Former PCC general secretary from Andhra Pradesh. Lost 1999 Assembly election from Sathupalli; secretary, AICC.

o Sooraj Prakash Khatri. INDIAN OVERSEAS BANK. General Secretary of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee

o M N Kandaswamy. INDIAN OVERSEAS BANK. Member, AICC.

o Maj Mrs Krishna Mohini. PUNJAB AND SIND BANK. A former Congress MLA from Solan, now vice president in the All India Mahila Congress

o Harcharan Singh Josh. PUNJAB AND SIND BANK. A student union leader who at present is, member of the National Commission for Minorities. Was earlier Secretary of the Minority Department of the AICC. Was also in charge of Manmohan Singh's election in 1999

o Umesh Kumar Sharma. PUNJAB AND SIND BANK. Former General Secretary of the Haryana Pradesh Youth Congress and general Secretary of the District Congress Committee in Sonepat.

o K K Sharma. PUNJAB AND SIND BANK. Former AICC Secretary, attached to Congress Working Committee member Mukul Wasnik. Is also an AICC member.

o Kamal Mann. PUNJAB AND SIND BANK. A Mahila Congress leader from Haryana is also a member of the AICC. A relative of former Haryana Minister, Tejinder Pal Mann.

o Vinay Kumar Sorake. SYNDICATE BANK. Former Congress MP from Karnataka. Lost elections in 2004

o Shobha Ozha. SYNDICATE BANK. Former general secretary of the Congress party's National Students Union of India and Indian Youth Congress, now president of the Mahila Congress in Madhya Pradesh.

o Nirmal Khatri. UCO BANK. A former Congress MP from Faizabad, is presently a Secretary in the AICC.

o Omen Moyang Deori. UCO BANK. From Arunachal Pradesh, special invitee to the Congress Working Committee.

o Rani Satish. UNION BANK OF INDIA. A former Congress MLC and a Minister for Kannada and Culture in the S M Krishna Government. Now president of the Karnataka Pradesh Mahila Congress Committee.

o Abdul Rashid. UNITED BANK OF INDIA. District Congress Chief of Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh.

o P C Zoram Sangliana. UNITED BANK OF INDIA. Former Minister from Mizoram, has been an elected member of the AICC for decades and General Secretary of the Pradesh Congress Committee of Mizoram.

o Praveen Davar. UNITED BANK OF INDIA. Another old-timer at the AICC headquarters, he is presently Secretary of the AICC's ex-servicemen cell. Has also been AICC General Secretary and part of its media cell.

o Mansoor Ansari. UNITED BANK OF INDIA. Congress leader from Jharkhand, member of the Jharkhand Congress Committee and the Jharkhand Pradesh Congress. Also member of the PCC's Pradesh Election Committee.

o Paban Singh Ghatowar. UNITED BANK OF INDIA. Congress MP for four terms from Assam, former Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare and Deputy Minister for labour.

o Anusuya Sharma. UNITED BANK OF INDIA. Former office bearer of the Uttar Pradesh Pradesh Congress Committee.

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