Thank You Vinod Rai For Vindicating Jitendra Bhargava Who Almost Unearthed Air India Scam

Former executive director of Air India, Jitendra Bhargava, had come up with his own book, titled The Descent of Air India, earlier this year. But the book was abruptly withdrawn by the Bloomsbury publication.

It should be really a matter of pride if books after books are written on you.

But the opposite must be happening with former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

First Sanjaya Baru, then Natwar Singh and now Vinod Rai – all have labeled ex-PM as the biggest puppet of all time.

While Baru’s book was solely about the ex-PM, it was not much of an account of the serious inter-ministerial works that happened under his watch. Natwar Singh’s book was much of a jilted lover’s story which revolved only around Madam Sonia Gandhi, her favourite puppets and the change in her nature. But Rai’s is a serious tell-all by an accountant who looked closely into the books.

When in office, Rai unearthed series of scams including 2G, Commonwealth games and Coalgate.

But now he has unearthed anther scam through his book – the Air India scam.

Rai’s book Not Just an Accountant: The Diary of the Nation’s Conscience-Keeper, says that then aviation minister Praful Patel put pressure on the Air India board during his tenure at the Civil Aviation Ministry, which caused the flag carrier to purchase 68 planes instead of the 28 that it was originally to be bought.

He apparently “nudged” the board at a meeting on 2 August 2004 to buy 40 more planes and look at the “long term perspective”.

These extra planes, said Rai, were bought at a cost of Rs 38,000 crore.

Talking to Times Now, Rai revealed the bits of the incidents that happened afterwards when he included this small word “nudge” in his report. He said: “Bureaucrats of all hues, serving and retired, including Air India officials, started approaching us to drop the word. The funny part is that just about everyone dispatched to plead with us against the usage of the word nudge…almost everyone acknowledged that the (2 August board) meeting was, in fact, the turning point where the minister nudged Air India.”

It should be noted that former executive director of Air India, Jitendra Bhargava, had come up with his own book, titled The Descent of Air India, earlier this year. But the book was abruptly withdrawn by the Bloomsbury publication. This was, of course, followed by an unconditional apology to Patel and a promise that all the books in stock will be destroyed.

DNA, while reporting the incidence, had quoted Patel: “The book contains totally baseless allegations against me. When my attention was drawn to it, I immediately filed a defamation case against all the persons concerned. I exercised my legal right to defend my reputation. Why should I use any other means?”

Satish Maneshinde, senior advocate for the former minister, had filed a criminal defamation case in a Mumbai metropolitan magistrate’s court against Bhargava and Bloomsbury on behalf of Patel. He had later told DNA that the withdrawal of Bhargava’s book by Bloomsbury was the outcome of an out-of-court settlement between Patel and the publishing firm.

Bhargava, however, had said that efforts were made to suppress the book which was in its second edition. “In the past, television discussions on the book were abruptly cancelled for some inexplicable reasons. I have still not decided how to respond to the withdrawal of my book. I am a corporate person and not a legal one,” he had said.

The Descent of Air India highlighted many of the reasons that brought Air India to its knees. These include several bilateral agreements that went wrong; the shutdown of profitable routes of the airline and giving them away to other airlines and aircraft bought at high prices and sold off at junk prices.

Although Rai did not say it in clear words, one can pretty much make it out from his statement given to Times Now during the interview. He was very clear when he said that “just because you have bought more aircraft doesn’t mean that Air India is going to come out of the red but, the more damaging part of it was, 97 percent of this purchase amount was going to be debt.”

Bhargava now stands vindicated.

Article Categories:
News Analysis

Don't Miss! random posts ..