Subarata Roy ’s downfall has been one of the most dramatic business downfalls. Roy who was once seen as one of the most powerful and influential businessmen in India was in the midst of a controversy that broke out in 2014 concerning non-payment of dues to Sahara’s investors. Sahara group reportedly owed Rs. 36,000 crore to investors. The case had been brought to court on the grounds that Sahara did not stick to the industry rules and flouted market regulations. The dispute related to issue of Optionally Fully Convertible Debentures which Sahara group issued only “after taking permission from the Registrar of Companies at Ministry of Corporate Affairs”. SEBI objected that market rules had been violated as no Draft Red Herring Prospectus (DRHP) had been filed by Sahara which is necessary for companies trying to raise funds apart from taking permission from the SEBI for raising funds. During this rough patch, Roy also had to languish in jail for a duration of two years.
Subrata Roy had however in 2014, contended that it was due to political and personal reasons that he was witch-hunted and his business house brought down. The business tycoon had blamed the Congress for trying to throttle Sahara group’s business operations. He alleged that regulators such as the Reserve Bank of India and SEBI went after him because of his ‘emotional’ comments against the then president of the Congress, Sonia Gandhi. Roy had expressed his reservation about Sonia Gandhi citing her Italian origin to top leaders of the CPI (M) when the UPA came to power in 2004 with the support of the left parties.
Roy had added that trouble for his business group started in 2008 when the RBI wrongly banned the group’s RNBC (Residuary Non-Banking Financial Companies) business, for political reasons. He clearly indicated a link between the RBI action and his opposition to Sonia Gandhi becoming the prime minister of the country in 2004. Roy stated that he wanted an Indian citizen to be the prime minister and elaborated, “I was opposed to the idea of anyone of foreign origin becoming the Prime Minister of India and this I had communicated to the Left parties when they offered support to the first UPA government.” When questioned about whether he thinks that Sonia Gandhi is to blamed for his debacle, Roy responded by saying, “I am not saying so. If something is said against me I may not react but, my subordinates might do things to please me.” It seems that Roy was referring to the senior Congress leadership as “subordinates” trying to please Sonia Gandhi. When asked whether he thinks of the Congress leadership as “subordinates”, Sahara chairman replied, “It appeared like that”.
Subrata Roy alleged that his public views about Sonia Gandhi earned him the wrath of RBI which compelled Sahara to wind down its deposit-taking business that had once been hailed by the RBI itself as “inclusive banking”.
Subrata Roy had also said in his 2013 press conference that he would prefer Narendra Modi to Rahul Gandhi as the prime minister candidate: “Both Rahul and Modi have no experience as PM. But we have seen Narendra Modi as chief minister and he has proved to be efficient. On the other hand, no one knows about Rahul’s administrative abilities.”
If there is even an iota of truth in Roy’s accusations about the Congress then it is shameful how a political party brought down an entire business house due to the promoter’s political opinions. If true, it also shows that the Congress believes in hounding and shutting down those who dare to oppose its working and leadership.