In the last leg of his two-year tenure as Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Ranjit Sinha is clearly not slackening the pace. Rather his recent views that big corporate houses are illegally routing huge sums of money abroad have set Dilli’s babu circles a-twitter. Sinha recently wrote separately to Revenue Secretary Shaktikant Das and Banking Secretary G.S. Sandhu recommending that the cases involving third party transfers be referred to the CBI for investigation. Of course, being a seasoned sleuth the CBI Chief has been careful about not naming any corporate house. This of course has given rise to speculation about which corporate houses Sinha was referring to in his letters. Obviously even mere suggestion of a CBI inquiry into corporate transactions is enough to set rumors off about his intention, and who or what forces are behind the agency’s current line of thinking. While the answer may elude for now, there are ample clues to keep speculators busy for some time!
A hard task
Forced by the public uproar over a land allotment scam involving the usual suspects — politicians and bureaucrats — Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has recently set up a task force to verify the allegations of misuse of discretionary quota by the authorities. The task force is headed by Tara Datt, Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management, with two Secretary-rank IAS officers as members. Widely perceived as a no-nonsense IAS officer, Datt’s task is unenviable, say observers, since he will be taking on some very influential politicians and bureaucrats, besides businessmen and journalists who are among the allottees under the discretionary quota in Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack. However, they add that the Chief Minister set up the task force to deflect the flak his Government has got on the issue, and Datt is just the babu to take the heat off the Government and identify the beneficiaries of this housing scam.
It’s upto PMO
Some weeks ago this column had noted some top vacancies in five sarkari aviation companies and agencies which Modi sarkar will have to deal with urgently. Sources say there has been some headway in selecting a candidate to head the Airports Economic regulatory Authority of India, whose last Chairman Yashwant Bhave retired last month. Apparently the Civil Aviation Ministry has proposed two candidates for the position — Kerala Chief Secretary Bharat Bhushan and S. Machendranathan, from the Cabinet Secretariat — to the Prime Minister’s Office for the final decision. The latter also served in the Ministry as Financial Advisor last year. Interestingly, in the Modi dispensation it is not necessary, say babu watchers, that the names suggested by the Ministry will meet PMO’s approval. They point out that recently PMO overruled giving a two-year extension to AirIndia Chairman Rohit Nandan. So the babus are keeping their fingers crossed!