Prime Minister Narasimha Rao asked finance minister Manmohan Singh to “finish the unfinished task” when the latter had resigned in wake of the securities scam involving Harshad Mehta.
“I sent him (the PM) my letter of resignation… after seven days he wrote a very nice letter to me saying `you have to go back to your job and finish the unfinished task’,” Singh told HT in an exclusive interview.
Rao, according to Singh, weighed the political consequences for a few days, before deciding to reject the resignation.
“He must have looked at the politics of it—whether it was politically advantageous for him to let me go or to keep me,” he said. “The media came superbly in support of what I did.”
Barely a year after Singh delivered a budget that opened India’s economy the country was rocked by a Rs 4,000 crore banking scam in 1992 which stock broker Harshad Mehta was alleged to have siphoned off funds from inter-bank transactions.
“I think the overall impression Narsimha Rao ji got was that the country was not expecting me to resign and that public opinion in the country was on my side. So, after seven days he wrote a very nice letter to me saying “you have to go back to your job and finish the unfinished task”, Singh, who was the Prime Minister of the Congress-led UPA government between 2004 to 2014, said.
A joint parliamentary committee was set up to investigate the scam that snowballed into a major political issue.
“The committee did not find anything wrong in my conduct…They picked on a remark I had made in a Parliamentary debate. I had remarked in Parliament that every time the stock market sneezes, I cannot lose my sleep,” he said. “But I felt that since the committee had found some fault in me, I should resign and I sent my letter of resignation to Narsimha Rao ji.”