On October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, Subrata Roy Sahara was in Skojpe, the capital city of Macedonia. He was presiding over a grand peace festival featuring Indian dance groups and a firework display. The festivities that took place on Skopje's main square were attended by the Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, and his cabinet colleagues.
"I was searching for a country without corruption to stage the first festival [of peace] and decided to choose Macedonia," local media quoted Roy as saying in front of thousands of spectators.
The group patriarch had also announced plans to build a recreational complex on the shores of Lake Ohrid, in the middle of a Unesco-protected heritage zone. Roy also announced a Euro 211-million investment in a cattle farm in central Macedonia, which would produce some 300,000 litres of milk a day.
Macedonians might have been surprised. But, such opulent display of glitz and grand announcements have been hallmarks of the Lucknow-based Sahara India Parivar and its patriarch for the best part of the past three decades.
Last Thursday's Supreme Court order, the harshest the group has faced over the years, threatens to derail this Macedonian expedition and a few others.
While Roy will not be able to fly to Skojpe or any other international destination where he has business interests, his group cannot easily raise money for future investments as the court has banned the group from parting with any asset until it submits original title deeds worth Rs 20,000 crore to Sebi.
The order also puts a question mark over recently reported plans of the group to sell its iconic hospitality assets such as the Park Plaza in New York and the Grosvenor House in London at huge valuations.
Text: N Sundaresha Subramanian, Business Standard