The Election Commission or the apex court needs to step in without delay and stop a family with the most dubious credentials from occupying Rashtrapati Bhavan and claiming the immunity from criminal proceedings that this post would automatically confer upon them. India has already lost self-respect at home and esteem in the international community on account of the imposition of Ms. Pratibha Patil as UPA Presidential candidate.
According to the political grapevine, Ms. Sonia Gandhi has selected such a compromised candidate because she is anxious to be sworn in as Prime Minister before 15 August, when she hopes to address the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
The Supreme Court should take suo moto notice of this outrage and appoint an amicus curae to examine the Criminal Procedure Code to see what sections apply to Ms. Patil and her family members in the case of the Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank whose license was cancelled by the Reserve Bank of India; the Sant Muktabai Cooperative Sugar Factory which indulged in fraudulent practices and closed down; the murder of Jalgaon District Congress Committee president and its alleged cover-up; and the case of abetment to suicide of a Jalgaon teacher.
Thus, we have the loot of the public exchequer and the savings of the poor on one side, and a murder and a suicide on the other. It is unbelievable that a family involved in such sordid dealings is being catapulted to Raisina Hills. However, brakes can be put even at this late stage because the agency accusing Ms. Patil of financial misconduct is none other than the Reserve Bank of India.
Skeletons have been pouring out of the Patil family cupboard ever since she leaped into the national limelight after being selected as India'sprobable first woman President. First she upset the entire Muslim community by saying that the purdah system came on account of Mughal atrocities. If she believed this, why didn'tshe support the endeavour to write a factually correct history of India, replacing decades of secular lies and distortions? This would have separated history from contemporary politics, but all she did was to stir the communal pot to no advantage of any community.
Then came reports that the Patil family had defaulted on a bank loan worth Rs 17.5 crore invested in Sant Mukthai Cooperative Sugar Factory. As founder-president, Ms. Patil has been declared a defaulter. Though she quit the cooperative in 1996, she handed over charge to her brother G.N. Patil. The money borrowed from the Mumbai District Cooperative Bank was Rs 17.5 crore.
This was followed by the widow of the Jalgaon District Congress Committee claiming that her husband Mr. V.G. Patil had been murdered in 2005, that the alleged assassin had confessed being hired by Ms. Patil'sbrother G.N. Patil, but was mysteriously killed thereafter and that Ms. Patil was involved in the cover up. The lady came to Delhi to apprise the President and Congress President of the situation, and thus, Ms. Gandhi was fully aware of the charges when she decided to project Ms. Patil as presidential candidate.
Then came the revelation that in 2003, the Reserve Bank of India had revoked the licence of the Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Co-operative Bank set up by her in Jalgaon in the wake of allegations of serious financial irregularities. The RBI indicted the bank'sfaulty loan policy and illegal loan interest waivers given to Patil'srelatives. Though the bank was set up to help poor women, the main beneficiaries included relatives of Ms. Patil.
Acting probably on complaints made by the Bank'sunion leaders, the RBI found that nearly a dozen of Ms. Patil'srelatives were granted loans totalling Rs 2.2 crore, including penalties, which were waived as Non Performing Accounts. Even male members of the family availed of benefits intended for poor women of Jalgaon. Penal interest to the tune of Rs. 41 lakh was waived, and the relatives were allowed to close their accounts in the bank prior to its liquidation.
The RBI strongly indicted Ms. Pratibha Patil as a ?politically influential personality. She has made all her relatives as Directors of the bank and the bank is being run as good as a family business. Because of the influence of respondent no 8 (Prathiba Patil) the bank has given various loans to the relatives and to a sugar factory of which she is a Director. Her relatives have not paid back the loans. Most of the loans were given without security. Most of the loans are closed.?
The shamelessness is compounded by the fact that Ms. Patil'selder brother, Mr. Dilip Singh Patil, admitted taking loans from a bank meant for women, but countered that: ?The bank had 8,000 to 10,000 members, all of them women, who also took loans. In such a case, how is it possible to say that the bank went into losses just because Pratibhatai'sfamily members took loans?? Perhaps he was not aware that the politically unconnected did not get the huge loans given to the Patil family, that too without security; nor did they get the facility of loan waivers and a quiet exit from the bank. There is a strong case for criminal proceedings and attachment of property of all the defaulters of the Patil family.
As Mr. Vijay Kumar Kakade, former president of Pratibha Sahakari Bank Karmachari Sangh, told the media, the cancellation of the bank'slicence and launch of the liquidation process has cost many people their jobs: ?Pratibha Patil was responsible for this. There is no personal enmity with Patil madam, but we want to tell our countrymen that such a person is going to occupy the highest office.?
It is shameful that the UPA'sPresidential candidate is currently one of the 34 respondents in an ongoing case in the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on the subject of mismanagement of the bank and misappropriation of funds by its Managing Directors. Since the law will move at its own pace, it follows that the case will proceed even after Ms. Patil enters the hallowed precincts of Rashtrapati Bhavan, and we will then face the unseemly spectacle of having a President against whom there is a criminal case! Any post-election exoneration will be meaningless, perceived as manipulated, and perverse, because the office of President would already have been demeaned beyond redemption.