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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

How independent are Independent Directors of PSUs? Half from BJP

Maharatna, navratna, mini-ratnas -- of 172 Independent Directors on 98 PSU boards, as many as 86 have ties to ruling party, an investigation shows.

Written by Shyamlal Yadav | New Delhi |
Updated: July 2, 2021 7:38:10 am
Data obtained by The Indian Express under the Right to Information Act and an investigation of records of 146 Central Public Sector Undertakings, for which details were available, show that there are 172 Independent Directors in 98 PSUs.

Markets Regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India is expected to discuss Tuesday how to reform the system of independent directors — their appointment and their role in the board.

Two years ago, the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), a Central Government think tank, put it bluntly: “The selection of Independent Directors (ID) for PSUs has not remained independent. Instead of experienced domain experts, preference is being given to ex-IAS or recently to political affinity so the whole idea of ID has been vitiated.”

Data obtained by The Indian Express under the Right to Information Act and an investigation of records of 146 Central Public Sector Undertakings, for which details were available, show that there are 172 Independent Directors in 98 PSUs. Of them, at least 86, serving on 67 PSU boards, are linked to the ruling BJP.

Below is an illustrative list of Independent Directors from blue-chip PSUs, including maharatnas (annual turnover of more than Rs 25,000 cr over three years) and their date of appointment. The Indian Express contacted all 86 of them, 81 got back with their comments, five did not respond.

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Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd

Manish Kapoor: Deputy Treasurer, UP BJP. (Appointed to the PSU board on Jan 30, 2020). “I am a professional and, as an independent director, I have my codified duties. I am chairing the CSR committee of the board but everything is done as per norms.”

Rajesh Sharma: ex-national convenor, BJP CA Cell, UP. (Feb 20, 2019). “I am just a member of the BJP now. No CSR fund is released from BHEL to any organisation related to anybody from the party.”

Raj Kamal Bindal: BJP member since 1996. (Jan 30, 2020). “My job there is to look after the interests of minority shareholders. It has nothing to do with the party.”


Indian Oil Corporation Ltd

Rajendra Arlekar: Former Speaker, Goa Assembly; ex-minister. (July 24, 2019). “I do not sit there with a political view but only with the interests of the company, interests of the people and interests of the nation in mind.”

Lata Usendi: vice-president, Chhattisgarh BJP; ex-minister; ex-MLA, Kondagaon. (Nov 7, 2019). “There is no conflict because of my being in the BJP.”

Steel Authority of India Ltd


N Shankarappa: state executive member, Karnataka BJP; ex-MLC; former State OBC Commission Chairperson. (Nov 13, 2019). “My BJP background has nothing to do with SAIL.”

Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd

G Rajendran Pillai: state executive member, Kerala BJP; lost 1996 Assembly poll. (July 15, 2019). “HPCL has no problem with my BJP background.”

GAIL (India) Ltd

Banto Devi Kataria: Wife of Rattan Lal Kataria, Union MoS for Social Justice and Empowerment. (Aug 6, 2018). She did not respond to a request for comment. Her husband Rattanlal Kataria said: “She is not there because she is my wife. She has been active in the BJP for 34 years.” Banto Devi is a member of the CSR committee of the GAIL Board.

Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd

A R Mahalakshmi: vice-president, Tamil Nadu BJP; lost 2016 Assembly polls. (July 26, 2018). “Being in the BJP and working as an Independent Director are different things, they have nothing to do with each other.”

Shipping Corporation of India Ltd


Vijay Tulshiramji Jadhao: BJP candidate in Maharashtra Assembly polls in 2009 and 2014, lost both times. (July 3, 2018). “There is no conflict as I have no vested interest.”

Mavjibhai B Sorathia: Convener of CA cell, Gujarat BJP; former Mayor of Anjar. (Dec 17, 2018). “When I attend meetings, I leave politics aside and work for the company’s interests.”

Oil India Ltd


Tangor Tapak: ex-minister, Arunachal; former BJP state president. (Aug 9, 2019). Did not respond to request for comment.

Gagann Jain: BJP member, Meghalaya. (Aug 9, 2019). “I have been appointed there as a CA, not as a BJP leader.”

Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd


Sita Sinha: BJP state executive member, Bihar; former Janata Dal MLA; was chairman of Bihar State Social Welfare Board in 2013. (Jan 24, 2020). “RINL is run on rules and regulations, and there is no political work.”

NLC India Ltd

Narayanan Namboothiri: BJP spokesperson, Kerala; Lost 2009 Lok Sabha and 2011 Assembly polls. (July 10, 2019). “At NLC, my job has nothing to do with my party position.”

V Muralidhar Goud: BJP district in-charge, Adilabad; chairman, Telangana Development Committee. (July 10, 2019). “At board meetings, I never introduce myself with my political post.”

Engineers India Ltd

M Arulmurugan: vice-president, Puducherry BJP; lost 2011 and 2016 Assembly polls. (Aug 9, 2019). “They listen to me and respect me because of my qualifications, not because of my BJP post.”

NBCC (India) Ltd

Jyoti Kiran Shukla: ex-spokesperson, Rajasthan BJP; former chairman of State Finance Commission. (Aug 1, 2019). Also on the board of HSCC India Ltd. “I am a professional and not occupying any political post or even an active member.”

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd

Dr S Malla Reddy: former vice-president, Telangana. (July 24, 2018). “When we are in board meetings, we only discuss issues related to the company.”

Container Corporation of India Ltd

Jayasankar M K: state executive member, Kerala BJP. (July 30, 2019). “We work in the interests of the company.”

It’s not just the major PSUs, there are several such appointments in mini-ratnas and other government undertakings as well. Consider this:

Hindustan Copper Ltd

Subhash Sharma: general secretary, Punjab BJP. (July 18, 2018). “I am an economist and my appointment has nothing to do with my position in the BJP.”

National Seeds Corporation Ltd

Shyamvir Saini: OBC Morcha state president, Uttarakhand BJP. (Aug 2, 2018). “Being in the BJP is not a problem.”

Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd

Shambhu Kumar: BJP national general secretary & in-charge, Kisan Morcha (Northeast states and UP). (March 7, 2019). “It does not matter if anyone is associated with the BJP or Congress.”

Bridge & Roof Company (India) Ltd

Lakshmi Suresh: Mahila Morcha vice-president, Tamil Nadu BJP; ex-Councillor. (Feb 21, 2020). “They (the board) take my suggestions and accept some of them as well.”

Airports Authority of India

Kasam Venkateshwarlu: secretary, Telangana BJP; lost Assembly polls in 2009 and 2014. (Nov 22, 2018). “I never recommend any organisation for CSR funds, etc.”

Numaligarh Refinery Ltd

Jaswant Singh Saini: ex-vice president, UP BJP; chairperson of UP OBC Commission; lost Lok Sabha polls in 2009. (Nov 29, 2019). “The meetings have nothing to do with politics.”

Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd

Dr Biswapriya Roy Chowdhury: vice-president, West Bengal; lost 2014 Lok Sabha election. (Aug 15, 2018). “I attend board meetings as a Garden Reach worker, not a BJP worker.”


Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd

Sobha Surendran: BJP national executive member; lost 2006 and 2021 Kerala Assembly polls. (Oct 31, 2019). “I can’t talk to the media on this.”

Bharat Petro Resources Ltd

Mona Jaiswal: Mahila Morcha president, Punjab BJP. (Nov 12, 2019). “There is nothing like that (conflict of interest because of association with BJP).”

The appointment of Independent Directors in PSUs is a layered process with the administrative ministry playing a decisive role.

These Independent Directors are not involved in the daily functioning of PSUs but play a role in policy formation and are often part of various board-level committees. Appointed for a tenure of three years, with a provision for extension, they “may receive remuneration by way of fee” and “reimbursement of expenses for participation in the Board and other meetings and profit related commission as may be approved by the members”.

In the records analysed by The Indian Express, a prominent name is that of BJP general secretary D Purandeswari, who is on the board of Air India, which was put up by the Government for strategic sale last year. Purandeswari was a Minister of State during the UPA-1 government before switching to the BJP in 2014. She was appointed to the Air India board on October 4, 2018.

The other Independent Directors on PSUs, who are linked to the BJP, include:

Balmer Lawrie & Company Ltd

Vikash Preetam Sinha: co-in charge, Publicity Literature Department, BJP. (July 28, 2018). “I am not appointed only because I am in the BJP.”


Swadhinta Krishna: UP BJP. (Jan 27, 2020). “My decisions are not influenced by my party post.”

Manjunath G: BJP ex-district president, Bangalore (Central); former corporator. (Dec 27, 2018). “Since I became director, I have not held any post in the BJP.”

Hindustan Copper Ltd

R Kalyansundaram: BJP Tamil Nadu; lost Assembly poll in 1996. (July 22, 2019). “As per rules, as an Independent Director, I cannot comment.”

Central Warehousing Corporation

Anupama Singh Lodhi: Madhya Pradesh BJP; former BSP. (Jan 24, 2020). “We discuss warehouse policy not the policy of BJP.”

Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd

Shashi Bala Bharti: UP Women Commission member; former BJP MLA. (June 26, 2020). “There is nothing concerned with the BJP.”


Ranjit Sreenivas: BJP district vice-president, Kerala; lost Assembly poll in 2016. (Oct 21, 2019). “We don’t discuss politics there.”

India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd

Paragbhai M Sheth: member, e-library project, BJP Gujarat. (July 30, 2018). “Being in the BJP and being in ITDC are separate things.”

HSCC (India) Limited

Jyoti Kiran Shukla: Also on the board of NBCC India Ltd.

Vinod Panthi: ex-MLA, BJP Madhya Pradesh. (Aug 1, 2019). “There is no conflict of interest because of my being in the BJP.”

HLL Lifecare Ltd

Dr Vijaychander Reddy: BJP Telangana; lost 2018 Assembly polls. (Jan 21, 2020). “I am a doctor by profession, professor by designation and involved in many voluntary activities.”

Central Coalfields Ltd

Dr Shubhu Kashyap: BJP Chhattisgarh state executive member; lost 2018 Assembly poll.(Dec 13, 2018). “When I am at CCL, I don’t think about politics.”

Jajula Gowri: BJP ex-secretary, Telangana. (July 10, 2019). “I am just a BJP worker now.”

Shiv Arora: BJP district president, Uttarakhand. (July 10, 2019). “I am also a Chartered Accountant.”


Deepak Singh Bhakar: BJP spokesperson and head of feedback department, Rajasthan. (Oct 21, 2019). “They are very particular about selection…academic qualifications and experience are considered.”

Western Coalfields Ltd

Darshana C Deshmukh: former vice-president of BJP ST Morcha. (July 25, 2019). “They never concerned about my politics.”

Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd

D Duraiganesan: BJP vice-president, Puducherry. (Aug 24, 2018). “There is no politics.”

Indian Rare Earths Ltd

Col B B Pandian (retd): president, BJP ex-servicemen wing, Tamil Nadu. (July 16, 2019). “My presence on the board is in no way influenced by my party.”


Balmuri Vanitha: BJP Telangana; lost 2018 Assembly polls. (Jan 24, 2020). “Due to corona, I have attended only online meetings.”

Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India

Umesh Jhalani: BJP Madhya Pradesh. (Jan 1, 2020). “My politics doesn’t affect my work.”

Rangavjhula Lakshmipathi: BJP Andhra Pradesh; lost 2009 Assembly polls. (Jan 1, 2020). “I am just an ordinary member of BJP.”

Central Railside Warehouse Company Ltd

Deepa Bhardwaj: BJP ex-vice president, Haryana. (Sep 20, 2018). “Being in BJP is not a problem at the PSU.”

FCI Aravali Gypsum & Minerals (India) Ltd

Saraswati Verma: convener, BJP NGO Cell, UP. (May 18, 2020). “I have not faced any problems due to my political background.”

Ferro Scrap Nigam Ltd

Laxmi Verma: BJP working committee, Chhattisgarh; former Raipur zilla panchayat president. (Dec 14, 2018). “Independent Directors come from different fields so it takes time to understand everything. Our tenure should be for at least five years.”


Manju Chandra: BJP UP; lost 1991 Lok Sabha polls; ex-vice chairperson, National Safai Karamchari Commission. (Nov 8, 2019). “No matter which party I belong to, when I attend the board meeting I am always keen about the company’s welfare.”

HMT (International) Ltd

S Sathyanarayanan: BJP state executive member, Tamil Nadu; lost 2011 and 2016 Assembly polls. (March 28, 2019). “Only company matter are discussed, not politics.”

S Velpandiyan: BJP district executive member, Tamil Nadu. (Feb 15, 2020). “There is no political interference in board meetings.”

HMT Machine Tools Ltd

G Vijaya Sunitha Reddy: Describes herself on Facebook as “Official spokesperson for BJP”, based in Hyderabad. (Jan 27, 2020). Did not respond to request for comment.

National Film Development Corporation Ltd

Srinivasan Rajesh Kanna: His Twitter handle is @bjprajeshkanna and his Facebook profile says he is a “political candidate”. (Feb 27, 2020). Did not respond to request for comment.

Brahmaputra Crackers & Polymers Ltd

Saumitra Sarkar: BJP West Bengal; lost 2016 Assembly polls. (Nov 21, 2019). “My politics has never been a conflict there.”

Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation Ltd

Bipina Bihari Padhy: Husband of ex-BJP MLA Surama Padhy. (May 9, 2020). Did not respond to request for comment.

Braithwaite & Company Ltd

Nirmala Devi Indukuri: BJP Hyderabad; former Congress. (July 11, 2019). “If I have an interest in something, I will do it. It has nothing to do with my political position.”

Burn Standard Company Ltd

Badri Prasad Singh: BJP UP; former IGP. (Aug 28, 2019). “The company is in the process of disinvestment.”

Central Cottage Industries Corporation of India Ltd

Digvijay Dixit: BJP Delhi; ex-secretary, Mahila Morcha. (July 30, 2018). “Presently I don’t hold any party post, so there is no question of conflict.”

Certification Engineers International Ltd

Anita Gurjar: ex-MLA, BJP Rajasthan. (Sep 25, 2020). “Politics doesn’t matter there.”

Om Prakash Mishra: media panelist, BJP UP. (July 24, 2018). “I am a Chartered Accountant and was appointed in my professional capacity.”

Food Corporation of India

Dr S P Saravanan: BJP national council; lost 2016 Tamil Nadu Assembly poll. (Jan 21, 2020). “There is no question of conflict as I am just a member of BJP, not holding any post.”

Hindustan Salts Ltd

Kavita Chaudhary: BJP vice-president, Haryana. (Jan 21, 2020). “I can’t comment now.”

Hindustan Shipyard Ltd

V P Sreepadmanabhan: BJP special invitee member, Kerala. (July 18, 2019). “The PSU is headquartered in Andhra Pradesh and my political activities are limited to Kerala, so there is no conflict.”

Dr N Rajalakshmi: advisor, intellectual cell, BJP Tamil Nadu. (Jan 21, 2020). “I am an economist and I am here because of my calibre.”

HMT Limited

Neera Tomar: BJP vice-president, Haryana; ex-municipal councillor. (March 27, 2019). “There is no politics. I give them suggestions and they accept it.”


Akhilesh Dube: ex-state coordinator, BJP Doctors Cell, Chhattisgarh. (Aug 8, 2018). “The government or party has never asked me for anything related to ITI.”

Mayank Gupta: BJP spokesperson, Uttarakhand. (Aug 13, 2018). “The single-point agenda of all directors there is the company’s interests.”

Rajen Vidyarthi: BJP UP. (Aug 8, 2018). “My appointment is because of my professional work.”

National Handicapped Finance & Development Corporation

Priyanka Chowdhary: BJP ex-spokesperson, Rajasthan. Lost 2013 Assembly polls. (July 27, 2020). “The company has no problem with my politics.”

National Safai Karamcharis Finance & Development Corporation

Anjana Panwar: vice-president, SC Morcha, BJP Rajasthan; lost 2008 Assembly poll. (Sep 24, 2019). “The Covid situation worsened after I completed the joining formalities, so I am yet to get a proper understanding of the position.”


Kamlawati Singh: vice-president, BJP UP. (Jan 22, 2020). “There is no politics.”

Kalpana Shrivastava: BJP district vice-president, Madhya Pradesh. (Feb 18, 2019). “Party work and company work are separate.”

Power System Operation Corporation Ltd

Ruchit Uppal: BJP Doctors Cell convenor, Chandigarh. (July 15, 2018). “I can’t dictate anything to the board based on my politics.”

Dolly Gosain: BJP Mahila Morcha ex-vice president, Punjab. (July 11, 2019). “I am just a member of the BJP, not holding any post.”

Scooters India Ltd

Rakesh Sharma: Describes herself as “politician”; her husband’s brother Baldev Sharma was BJP MLA thrice in Himachal Pradesh. (Jan 28, 2020). “My association with a political party does not affect my independence in any manner.”

Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd

Rashmi Singh: BJP UP; contested 2012 Assembly poll; was in Congress. (May 8, 2020). “I participate independently, not as a BJP leader.”

National Handloom Development Corporation Ltd

Anil Kumar Sood: BJP CA cell convenor, Himachal Pradesh. (Oct 18, 2019). “I have been a CA for 35 years, and discharging my duties as Independent Director.”

The Jute Corporation of India Ltd

Puja Vidhani: BJP state executive member, Chhattisgarh; ex-president, BJP state Mahila Morcha. (Feb 19, 2020). “I sit on the board as a non-political participant.”

National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation

S Asim Basha: BJP minorities cell ex-chief, Tamil Nadu. (Dec 10, 2019). “I have never made any recommendation to NMDFC.”

National Scheduled Castes Finance & Development Corporation

Dr K Ramalingam: BJP Doctors Cell president, Tamil Nadu. (Oct 8, 2018). “There is no conflict because of my political post.”

National Jute Manufacturers Corporation Ltd

Madhvi Agrawal: BJP Mahila Morcha national executive member. (March 9, 2020). “There is no conflict between my political affiliation and my role as Independent Director.”

(Note: Some designations have been sourced from social media profiles.)

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First published on: 29-06-2021 at 04:15:30 am
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