WAS NARENDRA MODI government unfair to Raghuram Rajan, the much celebrated RBI chief who was let go by the government? The sledgehammer decision of demonetisation came within days of Rajan's exit and the Modi government did precious little to counter the impression that he was denied another stint/extension in the hot seat. There was even talk that he and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not see eye to eye on many issues of economy.
Now, support for the Modi regime has come from rather strange quarters. An almost sworn critic of the saffron regime, senior journalist and TV personality, Karan Thapar has revealed that he has reliable information that the Centre did its best to retain Rajan, and also tried its level best to accommodate Rakesh Mohan, a former deputy governor, who was at the time considered the best candidate available.
"It’s clear Mr Raghuram Rajan was not badly treated and the criticism the Modi government faced on this count was mistaken and unfair," said Karan Thapar.
The job, instead, was given to Urjit Patel, whose men, it seems, are still busy counting the void currency notes that were returned to the bank.
Saying that he was "duty bound to be fair," Thapar, who became a household name with his TV show The Devil's Advocate, said, "Unimpeachable sources have told me that Mr Rajan was offered a two-year extension. However, the problem was his inability to get a further extension of leave of absence from Chicago University without losing his valuable tenure. Mr Rajan could only stay on for eight additional months." He made the claim recently in his weekly column 'Sunday Sentiments' in the Hindustan Times.
"(I)t’s clear Mr Rajan was not badly treated and the criticism the government faced on this count was mistaken and unfair," Thapar added.
On the issue of why Rakesh Mohan was denied the top job at India's federal bank, the veteran journalist said, "I’ve very reliably learnt he was approached for the governorship and the government was extremely keen that he accept. Unfortunately, a personal and poignant problem prevented him from responding positively. It would be improper to go into further details."
Unfortunately, Thapar chose not to dwell further in this "personal and poignant problem" but long time practitioners of the craft of journalism vouch that Thapar is not given to making claims casually, or with a vested interest in mind. His word is taken very seriously by India's cognoscenti and when he writes that "criticism that Mr Mohan was overlooked is both mistaken and unfair," it carries more weight than any laborious explanation by any authority with an NDA tag.
Thapar's kindness, however, remained qualified. In his characteristic style, he warned the readers against reading more than he intended into his defence of the regime: "In these two instances its critics and opponents were wrong. I’m making no comment about anything else."
Now it is up to Delhi's chatterati to pick up the cue and dig deeper for juicier details, but the nagging question remains: Why did the NDA not defend itself if everything was so hunky-dory with its approach of choosing a successor to Raghuram Rajan? Will Karan Thapar reveal more? Over to the devil, may we say?
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