Hardline BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy has directed his guns against Union economic affairs secretary Shantikanta Das, who has been one of the chief implementors of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's November 8 demonetization move, calling him a "Chidambaram confidante", and asking Modi not to make Das new Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chairman.
Belonging to Tamil Nadu, Das, who is known to have defended Modi's noteban as no one else, retires from IAS in February this year. Das is Swamy's third major target in Modi's economic team, the first (click HERE) being former Reserve Bank of India director Raghuram Rajan, followed by chief economic adviser to the Union finance ministry Arvind Subramaniam (click HERE). Rajan resigned in September 2016.
In a letter dated January 7, 2017 to Modi, Swamy, Rajya Sabha MP, has accused Das of siding with the corrupt, saying, the latter "was widely perceived as acting to protect the interest of Chidambaram in his financial affairs", in cases such as "2-G scam, Aircel-Maxis scam, NSE fraud, manipulation of stock market etc."
Swamy cites a report in a well-known pro-BJP daily as saying that Das is “all set to become the next SEBI chief after the extended tenure of UK Sinha, who has been at the helm of the watchdog since February 2011, ends on March 1 this year.”
According to the report, three senior bureaucrats, including Das, have been selected for the top SEBI post, including Unio power secretary PK Pujari, a Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat, and additional secretary in the finance ministry Ajay Tyagi were also included in the list.
Swamy traces “close” relations between Chidambaram and Das to the latter's former postings in Tamil Nadu, where, according to the BJP leader, Das came under “very adverse attention for several corruption matters from land allotment to foreign collaboration agreement.”
Swamy says, Das "helped Chidambaram by delaying unduly investigations that were being done" under the Supreme Court, giving the example of a letter forwarded by former CBI director Anil Sinha to Das on September 17, 2015, "wherein the CBI director pleaded" with Das to provide "necessary clarification" in the Aircel-Maxis scam.
Das, says Swamy in the letter, "stalled the further investigation by not replying and thus the interrogation of Chidambaram", adding, "The matter has now been brought out from the cold storage of the Ministry of Finance after Rakesh Asthana took over as acting director."
The result is that, Swamy says, on January 6, 2017, "in the court of Chief Justice of India my interloculory application No 78 on Aircel-Maxis cam was taken for the purpose of proceeding with further investigation into Foreign Investment Promotion Board illegal clearance approved by Chidambaram."
Accusing Chidambaram's son of "receiving payments as beneficiary from Maxis company of Malayasia, as revealed by the investigation by the Enforcement Directorate in 14 countries", Swamy says, under such circumstances it would be "wholly improper" to appoint Das as chairman of SEBI, calling such a move to be "entirely inconsistent" with the "anti-corruption campaign" of the BJP.