Home >politics >policy >Ex-CAG Vinod Rai trains sights on Manmohan Singh

New Delhi: Former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai has alleged that at least three senior Congress party members had requested him to keep out the name of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from the government auditor’s report on the second-generation (2G) spectrum allocation scam.

“After the PAC (public accounts committee) meeting on 2G, Congress MPs (members of Parliament) did tell me that keep the prime minister out of this," Rai said in an interview to news broadcaster Times Now before the release of his book, Not Just An Accountant. The Parliament’s public accounts committee audits the government’s expenditure.

The revelation by Rai is likely to cause more embarrassment to the former prime minister and the Congress party, which led the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government before it was ousted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition in May this year. The UPA’s 10-year rule was marred by allegations of graft, including the 2G spectrum, coalfield allocations and Commonwealth Games scams, against his government and the Congress party.

Rai claimed that UPA leaders had also used the services of his former colleagues in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) to influence him to leave out certain names from his report.

Former telecom minister A. Raja resigned in 2010 after being accused by the government auditor of favouring some companies in awarding of telecom spectrum.

The national auditor claimed the irregularities in allocation had cost the exchequer 1.76 trillion. In 2012, the Supreme Court had cancelled all 122 permits issued.

The former chief auditor has also alleged that Singh was aware of the developments related to the irregular allocation of spectrum and coalfields during his tenure as prime minister but did little to prevent them.

“If he had put his foot down, probably the fate and the course of UPA-2 (government) would have been different. If he had put his foot down and stopped this process from unfolding," Rai said in the interview. “This process was faulty in a large number of ways. And the government has also accepted that rules and regulations were not being followed, goalposts had been shifted."

Rai said some of Singh’s own cabinet colleagues had opposed the allotments and had asked the former prime minister to discuss the issue at a panel consisting of a group of ministers before its implementation.

“The finance ministry was also saying that let’s bring it to a group of ministers. The law ministry had also advised him to do that," Rai said. “But somehow it did not take place."

Rai’s book follows similar tell-all accounts written by former government officials. They include a book by the media adviser of the former prime minister, Sanjaya Baru, former external affairs minister K. Natwar Singh and former coal secretary P. C. Parakh. All these books have been critical of the UPA government.

Rai said Singh had succumbed to the “compulsions of coalition politics".

In the case the coal block allocations, Parakh had pointed out to Singh that the process of allocation was leading to lobbying, pressure and windfall gains to some allottees, Rai said.

“This was brought to the notice of the prime minister, who was holding the portfolio at that time. The PM understood it," he said.

The national auditor had estimated that alleged irregularities in allocating coal mines may have cost the exchequer 1.86 trillion.

Rai claimed Singh overruled a strong objection from his own sports minister to appoint Suresh Kalmadi as chief organizer of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Kalmadi, who was then the president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), was later arrested on charges of corruption related to the organization of the games in Delhi. The games had attracted worldwide attention for mismanagement and corruption.

“It was very much in the government domain that the Commonwealth Games were to be implemented. But in this particular case, the argument trotted out was that it is the Indian Olympic Association which should be incharge," Rai said, adding that the then prime minister wrote to the sports ministry that Kalmadi will control the entire Commonwealth Games.

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