Vinod Rai says UPA made him drop names from CWG, coal scam reports4 min read . Updated: 24 Aug 2014, 08:07 PM IST
BJP wants the former CAG to reveal the identity of those who approached him to drop the names
New Delhi: In fresh embarrassment to the Congress party, especially former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai has claimed he was pressurized by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime to drop certain names from audit reports in Coalgate and Commonwealth Games scams, triggering a political row.
Rai had on Saturday claimed that some UPA coalition functionaries had deputed politicians to get him leave out certain names in this regard.
Congress on Sunday questioned the integrity of Rai and accused him of indulging in “sensationalism" while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded that the identity of leaders who “approached" him be revealed.
In remarks damning the previous dispensation, Rai claimed that UPA functionaries had roped in even his colleagues in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), to which he belonged before his appointment as CAG, to persuade him to leave out names.
Like some of the books that have recently hit the stands including those by the media adviser to the former prime minister Sanjaya Baru, former external affairs minister Natwar Singh and former coal secretary P.C. Parakh that have been severe on Singh and his government, Rai is penning his views in his forthcoming book Not Just An Accountant to be released in October, that will be critical of the UPA.
Rai, who had demitted office last year after several run-ins with the UPA government and had estimated a “notional" loss of Rs1.76 lakh crore in 2G spectrum allocation and Rs1.86 lakh crore in coal block allocations, made the comments, which was also severe on Singh, on the sidelines of a book launch event in New Delhi.
He has said he would provide details of how sheer considerations of survival led Singh to acquiesce to decisions which caused huge loss to the exchequer.
“See the prime minister is the first among equals. He has to take the last call which sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t. Everything cannot be sacrificed only to remain in power. Governance cannot be sacrificed at the altar of compulsion of coalition politics. I have said it in the book," he said.
On Sunday, Rai refused to meet reporters who reached his residence and declined to elaborate on his comments, but people close to him said, “Each and every word in the book is factually correct. The purpose is not to tarnish image of somebody but to help in improving governance and systems in future. The language used in the book is so simple that people from all walks of life including students can understand."
Slamming Rai, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari reiterated “standing invite" to “Rai sahib" to debate at any forum of his choice “sensationalism that formed the staple of his tenure".
“If at all, he was under any pressure or he was being coerced either obliquely, directly, implicitly that certain people be named and others deleted, was it not incumbent upon him to make it public at that point of time," Tewari said.
He said Rai was perhaps “saving these little nuggets of sensationalism for what is a post-retirement pension plan these days—that you write and create enough sensationalism around it".
Alleging that Rai has already vitiated public discourse by putting out “sensational numbers" about the scams in CAG reports, Tewari said he should revisit the entire issue. “...it would be my pleasure to demolish the findings which he had come to in his report so that the nation comes to know conclusively what really was the truth," he said.
The BJP said that it is time for former prime minister Singh to speak up and that Congress should come clean on the issue. It said Rai’s claims on Saturday have vindicated its stand that the UPA government was not only “misusing" constitutional bodies but was also putting pressure on them.
“We want the Congress to reveal the names of those who were putting pressure on the former CAG. Who were those people who had established contacts with Vinod Rai and went to his home?" BJP spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri told reporters.
He said the charges against the previous UPA government made by the BJP “have been proved true".
Another BJP leader Sambit Patra said the Congress party stood completely exposed after Rai’s revelations. “So after Sanjaya Baru & Natwar Singh it’s former CAG Vinod Rai who’s ready to drop a “Book-Bomb"...Carpet Bombing of the Congress on way!!" he tweeted.
BJP’s Subramanian Swamy said Rai is an upright person with a flawless record and that it is time for Manmohan Singh to speak up.
Hitting out at the former CAG, senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar said if Rai was under any kind of pressure, he should have spoken then itself and made it public.
Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), also questioned the timing of the disclosure, saying if Rai would have revealed it before, it would have been taken more “seriously".