Can Political ‘Friends’ Give Subrata Roy the ‘Sahara’?

Some of the one-liners that I came across in last two days struck me as epiphanies. Honestly. A couple of them are worth citing: “From Lambretta to Limousine”; “He sold namkeen, chit funds and dreams”, and so on and so forth. The Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy could have managed a chuckle on reading these.  Following his recent arrest over non-refund of investors’ money and contempt of court, some of the skeletons came out of the closet. The episode fanned the concerns over political clout the corporates enjoy in this country and partisanship allegedly making its place in Indian judiciary.

There is not even an iota of doubt that he exerted power in the political arena. Only a dolt will fail to realize a symbiotic ecosystem that existed in Uttar Pradesh. While Roy continued to give people employment on the basis of political recommendations, the Sahara Parivar continued to reach stellar height almost without any bureaucratic hindrance from the state government.

Roy has been displaying sheer arrogance by flouting the apex court order to refund $3.8 bn raised by selling investment products without taking SEBI’s approval. In his defense, he had affirmed that Sahara had approval from the corporate affairs ministry. Going by the news reports, Roy has tried the collective patience of RBI, SEBI and Supreme Court before finally compelling the latter to issue a non-bailable warrant.

For those who are not aware, RBI had earlier closed in on Roy after sensing that his company has been disguising black money as deposits from investors.  To escape the eye of suspicion, Sahara converted the deposits into OFCDs (optional fully convertible debentures) only to find SEBI coming down heavily upon them. SEBI identified the wrongdoing within Sahara as two unlisted companies under the conglomerate made a public issue. That’s a clear violation of norms.

Does Roy see himself as someone who is above the law? That’s the question raised by the political analysts. Is it his political linkages that made him audacious enough to ignore judicial orders? Here’s an interesting observation on this note:  BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Jethmalani are his lawyers, and these influential personalities can be counted among his ‘friends’ across the political spectrum.

Ever since he started losing his shine and times became little more troubling for him, the Sahara Chief has been harping on a different tune. After SEBI started hounding his group, he went on to make public statements indicating that Sahara has become a ‘victim of political vendetta’.  Why so?  Let’s know from the man himself:  “After my emotional comments that an Indian should be PM and not a foreigner that the RBI and SEBI lashed out against Sahara India.”

No matter how much he blames RBI and SEBI for their “hostile behaviour”, this time he would find it hard to evade judicial actions.  The noose is slowly tightening on him.  Someone from the media fraternity summed up Roy’s misadventures, when she posited, “Sahara boss over estimated his luck.”

The ‘Sahrashri’ can conveniently put the blame on the large Opal that he wears on his right index finger, which seemed to have failed him in the time of need.