The BJP has stepped up its campaign to dig up the past of UPA’s presidential nominee Pratibha Patil. A booklet titled Does This Tainted Person Deserve to Become the President of India?, by former Union Minister Arun Shourie, has been released as part of the party’s “public awareness campaign”.
Shourie has raised questions about the closure of Patil’s co-operative bank in Maharashtra, how her relatives defaulted on big loans and whether she shielded her brother in a murder case. He says the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) shut the bank because of poor loan recovery and an abnormal increase in non-performing assets.
Patil set up the bank in her own name in 1973. With many members of her family as directors, she was the founder-chairperson till the closure of the Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank, the booklet said.
In 1995, the RBI included it in its list of ‘weak banks’ and placed it under rehabilitation “due to heavy erosion in its assets as observed in the inspection in March 1994”.
In February 2003, PB Mathur, RBI’s executive director, said the inspection revealed many irregularities. As a consequence, Shourie says, the RBI cancelled the bank’s licence.