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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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PMO linked to UTI mess: Sena leader

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JULY 30. The Government today suffered the mortification of coming under fire from one of its important allies over the Unit Trust of India debacle during a short duration debate in the Rajya Sabha. The Shiv Sena came virtually close to naming the Prime Minister's household for influencing the investment decisions of the UTI, causing embarrassment to the treasury benches as its charges were energetically supported by the Congress and the Left.

Mr. Sanjay Nirupam, fielded by the Shiv Sena, created a stir by alleging that the jailed ex-UTI Chairman regularly called up influential people in Delhi, including highly-placed persons in the Prime Minister's Office. The list of Delhi-based mobile phone numbers made available to the CBI only strengthened the claims made by the former UTI chief, Mr. P. S. Subramanyam's lawyer that most murky investment decisions were taken on instructions from top officials and Delhi-based power brokers, he alleged.

Mr. Nirupam also alleged that after the lawyer's disclosure about pressure from Delhi, the CBI was being influenced to release Mr. Subramanyam from its custody.

He also demanded that all private placements made by the UTI between June 1999 and June 2000 be tabled in Parliament. A quarter of the 1,300 private placements made by the UTI during this period were in unregistered companies and about half of them were in companies whose rating was slipping by the day.

`CBI probe may be futile'

Mr. Kuldip Nayar (Nominated), himself a ``victim of fiscal terrorism'', felt the Government had become oblivious of its rights and duties. The dividing line between moral and immoral had ceased to exist. In the light of the sentiments expressed by Mr. Kapil Sibal and Mr. Nirupam, he felt the CBI probe may be a futile exercise. ``I am not a rich person. How will I recover the money. The Finance Minister has no moral authority to continue. He should resign,'' he said.

Mr. Peter Alphonse (TMC) drew attention to the dichotomy between the treatment meted out to the Madhavpura Mercantile Bank which was promptly bailed out because its investors happened to be the electorate of the Union Home Minister, Mr. L. K. Advani, and millions of depositors elsewhere in the country who have been left in the lurch after they were robbed of their savings by financial companies.

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