I refer to a brief of his career. He began his investigation career during the late '60s as millitary special agent specialising in counter-terrorism. He then moved on to investigate Government corruption and financial fraud for New York City and later served as 168 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
investigator for the Watergate Committee. These are the credentials of the great man, Mr. Harshman.
In the Fairfax issue, who retained him to work for the Government of India? Was it Mr. V.P. Singh, Mr. Bhure Lal, Mr. Gurumurthy or Mr.
Nusli Wadia? This the unholy nexus because of which we are discussing the motion here in this House. Who paid him the expenses? Certainly not the Government of India. It was said so. Who employed him? Again I quote Mr. Michael Hershman from the India Today. The question was put: "how soon after did you come to know that there was something wrong", He answers: "It was almost immediately after because I was given information and files". Bywhom? It was given by the Finance Minister.
That showed him the extent of BCCI's involvement. That is why, I have said earlier, this is a part of the international conspiracy. They are out to malign true BCCI operations in Bombay, India, the Government of Mr. Narasimha Rao and the ruling Party.
Mr. V. P. Singh in his appearance before the Thakkar Commission has denied that he had ever come into contact with Mr. Michael Hershman. I do not know whom to believe. But obviously I would like to believe Mr. V. P. Singh when he is compared with Mr. Michael Hershman.
Both are experts in disinformation. I am only saying whom to believe more and whom to believe less.
SHRI ABDUL GHAFOOR (Gopalganj): Why are you after Mr. Hershman?
He must be a nastiest man in the world. But he was enquiring whether a particular person was a thief or dacoit. (Interruptions.)
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: That is why I am saying that I would rather believe Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh than Mr. Michael Hershman although both of them were experts in disinformation. Who introduced Michael Hershman to Shri Bhure Lal? Shri Bhure Lal him self said that in a statement it was acknowledged it was Shri Gurumurthy who introduced him to Michael Hershman. Who is Shri Gurumurthy? Shri Gurumurthy
169 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
is a Chartered Accountant with known RSS leanings.
SHRI SOMANTH CHATTERJEE (Bolpur): That is why he is Shri Jaswant Singh's friend. (Interruptions)
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: That is to be corrected. This unholly nexus is to be corrected. Coming to my point, Shri Gurumurthy is the Economic Advisor to whom? He was of the Economic Advisor to Shri R. N.
Goenka of the Indian Express Group,the author of all articles written against the Reliance Group in Indian Express. And, for whose benefit it was written? Was it meant for the benefit of the rival corporate giant Shri Nusli Wadia? Well, I do not know about it. It could be for anyones benefit. Who paid for Mr. Michael Hershman's stay in India? As it appears, he stayed in the hotel Obgeroi Continental. Was it a coincidence that the Chairman of the Bombay Dyeing Group also stayed in the same hotel during that time? He was an honoured guest of the hon. Chairman.
SHRI ABDUL GHAFOOR: Was Shri Jaswant Singh there or not?
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: I cannot say about Shri Jaswant Singh. But Shri Gurumurthy was certainly there.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE: Did he speak on Fairfax now?
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: I did not have the opportunity to hear him.
But he did refer to that.(Interruptions)
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Members should kindly address the chair.
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: That is why I said earlier that the
intention behind the motion is really not to look afterthe interests of the depositors and the employees of BCCI. As a post-script, hon.
Member Shri Jaswant Singh added in his speech one thing and so the intent was very clear. It is aimed at how to malign the ruling party and
170 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
the Leader of the ruling party which he tried his best to do. But unfortunately till now he has been unable to do so ... (Interruptions) The BCCI may be involved in all kinds of rackets outside the country.
It really does not concern as far as I am concerned. It does not concern us at all. What are the operations of the BCCI in Bombay? They are our primary concern. They should be punished if they have really violated any of our laws. I hold no brief for the BCCI or for the Reliance Group or for that matter the Bombay Dyeing or whatever it is.
I certainly do objecttothe way things are being brought out through this august House to the nation. Which are casting motives on our action, which are casting aspersions on people whom we are politically opposed to. It has been amply made clear by the hon. Finance Minister that the liaison office was opened during the Janta Party regime.
There is no doubt about it; there is no dispute as far as it is concerned.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: He has asked me one question and I have to clarify.
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: You may answer in your reply.
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: There is the recommendation of the then Minister of State. Who was the then Minister of State? He was Shri Satish Chandra Agarwal.
SHRIJASWANT SINGH: Was hethers? Please verify the fact before you say that.
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: It may be anyone. I stand corrected. But the then Minister of State for Finance made some recommendation. It can be corrected. But now I stand by the name I mentioned. The then Minister of State for Finance in 1979 proposed to the Finance Minister and to the Prime Minister that the branch should be opened.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE: How do you know?
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: It was a statement made by the Finance Minister. The
171 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
Finance Minister did make a statement. He did intervene on the last Friday.
it was the dirty eighties decade which the hon. Shri Jaswant Singh mentioned in his speech in his usual style and in his usual vocabulary. Only after 1983,the permission was granted and that too, for six long years. They had to undergo strict investigations and enquires by the Reserve Bank and only when they were convinced that the RBI's guidelines were being followed, then only the permission was granted. No favours were granted. There were so many foreign banks operating in this country and that too, on the specific recommendations of so many NRIs of the country who wanted BCCI to have a branch in this country. Regular transactions were done. I must give a credit to Shri Jaswant Singh for this. He himself has claimed and observed that the Bombay branch of the BCCI was totally solvent and is totally solvent. Then where is the concern? What is the problem then?
The same unholy nexus I did not go to that raided on the 18th July, 1986 the BCCI branch in Bombay.
Why did they raid it? I again quote Mr. Michael Hershman. He says:
"We also realised we were not going to get cooperation from BCCI: It was not in their best interest. So we began talking about a method for getting the information we needed. There were two plans. One was to try to enlist the support of the US and the British governments in the investigation. The other was to gather enough information on BCCI's wrong doings in India to go afterthem criminally and try and force them to cooperate." Mark the works'to force them to cooperate'.
"that is why Bhure Lal took action against BCCI in Bombay." 172 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
I am not saying that. It is Mr. Michael Hershman's interview in India Today which is saying this. And Iam extremely grateful to India Today and to Mr. Michael Hershman for having come out with this. It further says:
the charges weren't important. What was important was to have evidence to support some charges so we could seek the cooperation of the BCCI employees being charged."
Shri Bhure Lal must have said,"excellient idea, Mr. Michael Hershman. Let us go ahead." and they went ahead. What didthey come out with? They came out, as per India Today with this and I quote: "We The catch: 471 fake passports and a total of 84,000 dollars in cash and travellers cheques. The scam -taking 500 dollars as foreign travel allowance for each passport holder was worth 2,35,000 dollars."
First is the question of 471 fake passports. On a later enquiry, not one passport was found fake. The usual practice with the Haj pilgrims is that when there is rush to go to Haj, they usually give their FTAs to the travel agents to cash that to avail the FTAs.
So, in that rush hour, that was the opportunity for the great detective of Shri V.P. Singh's Government, Shri Bhurelal, who came up with a brilliant idea, to catch the BCCIand force them to cooperate on something which was totally unrelated to. This was the intention behind all this operation. That is why, I oppose and because the Intent is totally malafide. The intent is totally political villification. It was not the concern for the depositors of Indian origin. It was only a political vendetta; a political vendetta that we saw in the 8th Lok Sabha and again being repeated now in this House.
That is why, I say that this is a motion which is entirely sterile in content but, totally political in intents. You see the list of creditors of BCCI; it makes a very interesting reading. Who
173 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
were the creditors? It was Tatas with a total exposure amounting to Rs. 10.77 crores; Birlas Rs. 21.34 crores; Reliance Rs. 10.8 crores; R. P. Goenka Rs. 22.69 crores; Godrej Rs. 7.69 crores and United Group Rs. 15.20 crores. They are the creditors of the BCCI the leading industrial houses of this country, who have been taking the advantage of the BCCI financing and who have been paying their regular dues on time. I hold no brief for the BCCI. let them be hanged from my side if they had committed any irregularities. But, do not malign those people who are doing their job professionally, competently in this country and who have been paying the tax on time. Why should they be condemned and why should they be maligned? That is my objection.
The India Today in its report, has made some remarks about its narcotic links. I do not know anything about it. It may be enquired into. Our Narcotics Bureau may go into it; the Finance Minister may look into it; or RAW or IB may go into it. Names of two persons have been mentioned as having narcotics links with Mr. Abedi. I would like to quote their names. One is Nasir Ali of Shahjanahpur.and is another is Ramesh Chandra Kochar of Delhi. I do not really know about Ramesh Chandra Kochar of Delhi. but certainly we do know about Nasir Ali of Shahjanahpur, because, he was one of the known narcotic smuggler of the country and Shri V. P. Singh had the occasion to have Iftar dinner at his house in Shahjanahpur. As Finance Minister, he had the total economic intelligence of this country and after resigning as Finance Minister, he went to attend the After dinner, when he was having a stormy country side tours. He obliged Shri Nasir Ali.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE: It had blown you off
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: Temporarily for eleven months and should Isay with your kind cooperation along with the BJP. (Interruptions) It may again be double checked. We have no objection. I would like it to be checked. I would like the Finance Minister to be very clear about it. The narcotic smug-
174 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
gling in this country has to be checked. The narcotic links of politicians must be closely scrutinised. My colleague, Shrimati Vasundhara Raje, was also complaining to me how the narcotic and the political nexus has been troubling her in her constituency. I also personally know although Dr. Laxmi Narayan Pandey would not own up because he is so rigidly to attuned to his party. (interruptions) [Translation]
SHRI RAM VILAS PASWAN: Since the name of Shri V.P. Singh has been mentioned and as he is not present, so I would like to say something. I was with him. Shri Shrivastava Ji, M.L.C. was also there with us on that day. They came quite late is the evening. The fact that Shri V. P. Singh attended 'Iftar' dinner at a smugglers premises may be verified.Allegations should not be levelled in an irresponsible manner.
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: The links between the narcotic smugglers and the polliticians must be closely inquired into. I would urge upon the Hon. Minister that whoever is concerned...
SHRI RAM VILAS PASWAN: He will never do that. I challenge you.
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: Why don't you cooperate?
SHRI RAMVILAS PASWAN: Let JPC investigate.
SHRIMATI VASUNDHARA RAJE: It is a very important point.
(Interruptions) We will be very very grateful if this kind of thing could take place. Hon. Finance Minister is sitting there. He has suggested JPC. Why don't you do it? (Interruptions)
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: With your cooperation.
175 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
SHRIMATI VASUNDHARA RAJE: We will give full cooperation.
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: I am prepared to cooperate with you.
SHRI RAM VILAS PASWAN: At least we must agree on this point. The Finance Minister is sitting there.
SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: I admire Hon. Shri Pawsan's ardent support and ardent admiration for Mr. V. P. Singh in whose Cabinet he had the honour to remain for eleven long months. Did he ever try or make an effort to bring the narcotics dealer to book? Never. I do not know of any instance as such. (Interruptions)
SHRI RAM VILAS PASWAN: Since we failed to do it, so we welcome the Congress (1) to do what all has not been done. (Interruptions) SHRI DIGVIJAYA SINGH: I am with you, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, on this point. (Interruptions) Our only concern as citizens of this country and as Members of this august House is to confine ourselves to the interests of people of Indian origin who have deposited their life earnings and savings in BCCI,Bombay, or for that matter in BCCI's any branch in the world. The Finance Minister must make every effort possible to safe guard those their interests.At the same time,Hon.
Finance Minister must look into and safeguard those employees' interests who are being unnecessarily punished. A profitable branch, solvent branch, of BCCI should be allowed to function as per the RBI guidelines. It can either be taken up by any of the nationalised banks the SBI or any other way the Finance Minister feels is correct. That is our only concern.
I would like to conclude on this note that we have seen mudslinging of the most, I would say, undesirable content and most unfortunate in sometime to come and in the
176 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
last few years time. I would urge upon Hon. Members not to resort once again on an issue which is totally unrelated, to go through the same exercise and resort to all those disinformation and character assassinations that we have seen in the case of Bofors. That is why I would urge upon all the Members not to vote for this Motion.
SHRI GEORGE FERNANDES (Muzaffarpur): Mr. Chairman, Sir, the hon'ble Member Shri Jaswant Singh in his speech has referred to the letter that has been sent by the Indian Muslim Forum. Perhaps copies of this letter have been received by other members also because the letters which have been addressed to the hon. Prime Minister and the hon. Minister of Finance bear a foot note mentioning that copies of the letter have been forwarded to all the hon. Members of Parliament, to the Members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha both. Though the letter does not mainly contain any such thing on which objection can be raised.
[RAO RAM SINGH in the Chair]
Yet I have got reservation about two paragraphs where in it has been stated:-
"What is most regrettable and reprehensible is that such Indian political leaders as Mr. George Fernandes, a Member of Indian Parliament, has even used the opportunity to insult and injure the religious sentiments of the Muslims bylevelling such false and frivolous allegations that BCCI was being used as a conduit for transferring funds overseas from India under the cover of Haj Pilgrimage expenses. We have checked this out with our Indian sources who have told us that this allegation is baseless." 177 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
In the end they have appealed to the hon. Members of Parliament.
It is said on the last paragraph that
"Also responsible and considerate Members...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Fernandes, what is this document which you are quoting from?
SHRI GEORGE FERNANDES: This document is sent by an organisation called the Indian Muslim Forum, UK (In London Borough of Newham), 7, Dunbar Road, Forest Gate, London E7, UK addressed to the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister and copies to all Members of Parliament, that is, Members of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. This letter is dated 31st August, 1991. But it is addressed only to two.
I have got the copy by post. Shri Rabi Ray have also received the copy the letter by post.
"Also, responsible and considerate Members of Parliament must ensure that such Members as Mr. George Fernandes are not allowed to insult Islam and the Indian Muslims by such baseless allegations against the Haj Pilgrimage."
Sir, If I may say in one sentence, I have never levelled such an allegation neither I could level such an allegation nor I could think in those terms today even but since on behalf of the organisation it has been said that they have their sources in India and the alleged allegations such are baseless. I feel that there may be some such sources which might be disseminating baseless information to the people...(Interruptions)... who ever they may be, but I would like to refute all these allegations and I also hope that ...
178 Motion re. collapse of B.C.C.I.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE (Bolpur): This will also be handed over to JPC.