||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (March 2013)|
|Praful Manoharbhai Patel|
|Patel at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 2013|
|Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises|
17 February 1957 |
|Political party||Nationalist Congress Party|
|Children||Avni, Niyati, Poorna and Prajay|
|Residence||26 Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Road, New Delhi 110001 India|
|As of 8 May, 2008|
Praful Manoharbhai Patel (born 17 February 1957, Kolkata) is a member of parliament of the Lok Sabha of India. He represents the Bhandara-Gondia parliamentary constituency and is a member of the Nationalist Congress Party. He currently holds the title of Cabinet Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in the Government of India. Before moving to the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Patel was a Minister of State for Civil Aviation from May 2004 up to January 2011. Praful Patel has been associated with numerous corruption investigations, within India and abroad.
He is the son of a Congressman, Manoharbhai Patel. Patel was elected as a member of the Lok Sabha in 1991 at the age of 34. He was then elected three times consecutively to the 10th, 11th, and 12th Lok Sabhas. In April 2000 he was chosen to Rajya Sabha . and again re-elected in April 2006. He is currently a member of the 15th Lok Sabha
Patel took over as the Minister for Civil Aviation in 2004. While a leading Business daily in India, the Economic Times, named him Business Reformer of the year in 2007 for his pathbreaking initiatives in India's Aviation sector, Praful Patel has also been subjected to extensive criticism for the unsuccessful merger of India's two state airlines – Air India (International) and Indian (Domestic), and the subsequent holding company's escalating financial losses. Praful Patel is an ex-director of Jet Airways, and he used his position as civil aviation minister to systematically direct Air India to withdraw from its profit making routes in the Gulf region, which were immediately taken over by Jet Airways.
Apart from his political activities, Praful Patel runs the $5 billion CeeJay Group, the largest beedi (or bidi) maker in India’s western Maharashtra state. The company also has interest in pharmaceuticals and financial services, among other businesses, and employs at least 60,000 people. Praful Patel is widely known as the 'Bidi King' of India. He is also the president of All India Football Federation and member of the Executive of the Asian Football Confederation.
Allegations of Corruption
As Civil Aviation Minister of India, Praful Patel is believed to be the main person responsible for the systematic destruction of Air India. There have been irregularities in the purchases of multiple aircraft during his tenure as the Minister of Civil Aviation. Air India was making a profit of around Rs. 1.05 billion, till the 2003–2004 fiscal. As of 2011, Air India has a debt of more than Rs. 400 billion and an estimated loss of Rs. 70 billion.
He has earned notoriety because between April 2009 and April 2011 his personal assets grew by 53%—from Rs. 790 million to Rs. 1.22 billion—at the rate of Rs. 500,000 per day. The same period saw a remarkable rise in the debt incurred by India's national carrier, Air India.
There are also allegations of misuse of Air India by Patel's family members. His daughter, Poorna Patel, who was a hospitality manager with the Indian Premier League(IPL), used her influence to charter an AI aircraft to ferry IPL players from Chandigarh to Chennai, resulting in the cancellation of a scheduled Coimbatore bound passenger flight IC 7603. In another incident, a response by Air India to a petition filed under the Right to Information Act, 2005 revealed that Praful Patel made the debt-ridden airline switch aircraft type from an Airbus A319 to a larger Airbus A320 on the Bangalore – Male route in 2010 to ensure business class travel for his family.
In February 2012, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police accused Praful Patel, during his tenure as aviation minister, of accepting a $250,000 bribe from an Ottawa-based Indian businessman to influence the tender for a $100 million contract to supply machine readable boarding cards and facial recognition software. Soon after, Patel also faces CBI in-house probe over bribe link
As civil aviation minister, Praful Patel put dozens of roadblocks in transferring the Nagpur airport to the ambitious MIHAN (Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur) project. MIHAN aimed to leverage Nagpur’s unique geographical location at the centre of India to create a road, rail and air transport hub for movement of goods east-west-north-south. The project was quickly sucked into controversy over land acquisition and remained at a standstill.
Strangely, Praful Patel’s role is not even mentioned in connection with MIHAN or any other controversy, and these alleged scams are rarely discussed even in the context of his systematic destruction of Air India and its being pushed it into a debt trap.
Despite the size of Praful Patel’s CeeJay Group, it is listed with the Indian government as a small and medium enterprise and is given several federal subsidies. Despite all the health hazards Bidi, the Indian government refuses to take a clear stand on bidi and public health. Praful Patel once promoted bidi as the best employment option for women. "If they didn't do this, what other job could these women do? It's just like knitting. It’s a fine-tuned, nice job,” Patel told The Wall Street Journal in 1999.
- Nira Radia tapes mention Praful Patel
- Bribery Scandal in Canada He is solely responsible for all the problems faced by Air India today. However, he has now been moved to a different ministry and so there is no accountability on him.
- "Rajya Sabha members". Retrieved 31 December 2009.
- Business reformer: Praful Patel – The Economic Times. Economictimes.indiatimes.com (4 October 2007). Retrieved on 20 February 2012.
- Praful Patel blamed for grounding Air India – Home. livemint.com (9 September 2011). Retrieved on 20 February 2012.
- Air India officials pin blame on Praful Patel for big plane buy : India News – India Today. Indiatoday.intoday.in (20 January 2012). Retrieved on 20 February 2012.
- Ex-minister Praful Patel forced Air_india to buy excess aircraft. indiatoday.intoday.in Retrieved on 8 May 2011.
- The Union Cabinet gets healthier thehindu.com. Retrieved on 21 September 2011.
- How to Ruin a Public Sector Institution Retrieved on 17 September 2011
- CAG points finger at AI for huge losses under Praful Patel’s leadership Firstpost.com. Retrieved on 7 August 2011
- Praful Patel's daughter pulled out scheduled AI flight for IPL. articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved on 23 April 2010.
- Praful Patel's family flew business class after Air India called in big planes. Ndtv.com. Retrieved on 20 February 2012.
- Praful Patel hogged Air India big jet?. Financialexpress.com. Retrieved on 20 February 2012.
- Indian-Canadian businessman claims he bribed Praful Patel : India News – India Today. Indiatoday.intoday.in (3 February 2012). Retrieved on 20 February 2012.
- Praful Patel faces bribery allegations, denies wrongdoing. Ndtv.com (3 February 2012). Retrieved on 20 February 2012.
- Praful Patel faces CBI in-house probe over bribe link