The NDA government has appointed at least ten politicians affiliated to BJP as independent directors on the boards of top public sector companies (PSU’s).
As reported by The Indian Express, the list includes Delhi unit vice president Shazia Ilmi; Gujarat IT cell convener Rajika Kacheria; minority face of the BJP in Gujarat Asifa Khan; former BJP MLA candidate from Odisha Surama Padhy and former Bihar MLC Kiran Ghai Sinha.
They will be on the boards of Navaratna PSUs that include Engineers India Ltd (EIL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) and the National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO).
These names are among the 83 people who were cleared by Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) for PSUs under 14 ministries and departments that included oil, steel, heavy industries, textile, railways, coal, power, water resources, health, mines, medium and small enterprises, commerce, chemicals & petrochemicals, and food & public distribution. The list also includes retired IAS officers, former heads of state-owned companies, and academicians from institutes like IITs and IIMs.
Who gets what?
- Delhi unit vice president Shazia Ilmi has been appointed as an independent director of Engineers India Ltd (EIL). Ilmi is a graduate of Jamia Millia Islamia University. She was a senior figure in Aam Aadmi Party before she joined the BJP.
- Rajika Kacheria, a cosmetologist, will be the independent director of the Cotton Corporation of India Ltd.
- Asifa Khan will serve on the Board of HPCL. A post-graduate in English literature, Khan, is a teacher-turned-politician, who was earlier affiliated to the Congress but has now become a popular minority face for BJP.
- Kiran Ghai Sinha, who has also served on the local board of the Reserve Bank in Bihar, has been appointed as an independent director of NALCO.
- Former Rajya Sabha MP, Bharatsinh Prabhatsinh Parmar, has been appointed to the Board of State Trading Corporation. He is currently the state general secretary of the Gujarat BJP
- Surama Padhy, a former MLA from Odisha, will join the BHEL board
- Sarnala Malathi Rani, BJP Andhra Pradesh unit’s Mahila Morcha head, is the independent director of Export Credit Corporation Ltd (ECGC), a PSU under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- Sipra Goon is the independent director of Andrew Yule & Company. She contested the 2016 Assam elections for BJP.
- Shikha Roy, a former BJP candidate from Kasturba Nagar constituency in Delhi, has been appointed to the board of National Handloom Development Corporation Ltd
So far, many of these appointees have informed that they have not received any such communication from the government about their appointment in PSUs.
Similar appointments in UPA regime
The UPA government, when in power, had also appointed its leaders in PSUs. C R Naseer Ahamed, a district Congress vice-president in Davangere, was appointed as a director on the board of Syndicate Bank in February 2013.
- Jagdish Raj Shrimali who served on the board of Syndicate Bank had also been an active Congress worker.
- Anusuiya Sharma, an AICC member, was appointed by the Union Bank of India on its board.
- Corporation Bank board had Bonam Venkata Bhaskar, joint secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee.
- The Allahabad Bank board had Ajay Shukla, a member of the UP Congress Committee.
The process of appointment of an independent director to a board of PSU is similar to that for a functional director of such entities. The proposals for the appointment of independent (non-official) Directors are required to be initiated by the Administrative Ministries concerned and submitted to Department of Public Enterprises (DPE). These proposals are processed in DPE and placed for consideration of the Search Committee. The committee scrutinises the list and finally recommends the name/names to the nodal ministry, which then approaches the ACC, chaired by the Prime Minister, for the final notification.
Points to ponder
- Every time the government changes, we expect a better administration without being biased or granting favour to any particular person. But nothing has changed it seems. People keep on gaining favours from their respective parties.
- Once these people are appointed to the boards, the government will continue to exert their control on them and hence the decision making powers will also be diluted.
- Despite these posts being of "independent " directors, the members will not be functioning independently because of the influence of the party in power.