India

Former Indian Bank MD M. Gopalakrishnan dies

Former chairman-cum-managing director of Indian Bank M. Gopalakrishnan died owing to ill-health at a private hospital here on Wednesday night. In the 1990s, he was a popular figure and was in the news often.

Mr. Gopalakrishnan, 86, is survived by his wife Rajalakshmi and daughter Sakila. He was born in 1935 into a traditional family with an agricultural background at Koladi near Thiruverkadu. His father M. Radhakrishna Pillai had served as Mayor of Madras during 1944-45 and introduced several reforms.

Mr. Gopalakrishnan joined Indian Bank as an unpaid officer in 1958. He went on to become its CMD in 1988 and continued in the post till December 1995.

Bank officials and his colleagues said he was a visionary and proactive. Under him, agriculture, education and healthcare and services became priority areas for the bank.

He was a pioneer in supporting start-ups, many of which became major successes.

The bank supported many philanthropic causes during his tenure.

Mr. Gopalakrishnan’s career was also marked by controversies as he got seven extensions — unprecedented in the banking history — when P.V. Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister and Manmohan Singh was the Union Finance Minister. When he was CMD, Indian Bank extended loans to several people, including those who were close to politicians.

A senior business journalist recalled, “He was generous to everyone who sought loans. He was always the chief guest at any inauguration or launch and became more popular. Loans were extended to educational institutions, healthcare facilities and film personalities who started new ventures, besides people who were close to politicians. Some of them were done on oral orders. Under his tenure, many autorickshaw drivers in the city had benefited from the loans from the bank.”

After Mr. Gopalakrishnan demitted office in 1995, Indian Bank reported a loss of ₹1,336 crore that financial year. He was arrested by the CBI on October 25, 1996, on the charge of sanctioning huge amounts to individuals accused and their companies without sufficient securities and by flouting the bank rules. The CBI filed 18 cases against him and his subordinates in 1998. So far, he had been convicted in 5 cases from 2009 and acquitted in one. He was given a 14-year jail term and a one-year term. Appeals have been pending against the convictions in higher courts. The rest of the cases are still under trial in lower courts.

Mr. Gopalakrishnan also dabbled in politics. He joined the Tamil Manila Congress, led by late G.K. Moopanar.

He was also the nominee of Makkal Tamil Desam, led by former Minister S. Kannappan, in Bhuvanagiri in 2001. He later joined the AIADMK. He also served as president of the Tamilnadu Yadava Maha Sabha.

His body was cremated at Besant Nagar.

PMK founder S. Ramadoss and Congress MP Su. Thirunavukkarasar expressed their condolences.

In his message, PMK founder S. Ramadoss said Gopalakrishnan worked for the development of the Yadava community and backed various movements organised by the PMK to ensure social justice and ban liquor sales.

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