Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai’s comments on Thursday at the Harvard Kennedy School (US)— saying his office was advised by the ‘highest in the land’ not to ‘exceed our mandate’ and get into auditing policy formulation — sparked off a war of words between the government and the opposition.
Pointing out that constitutional authorities should circumscribe by “Lakshman Rekha propriety”, I&B minister Manish Tewari on Friday said “...it is most unfortunate that CAG rather than validating the integrity of his numbers (on 2G loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore) chooses to criticise the government on foreign soil.”
Rai — whose reports on telecom licences etc snowballed into major controversies with huge political aftershocks — had also said on Thursday that the government was trying to reduce the audit watchdog to a mere accountant.
In retort, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said, “All have their defined roles. He (CAG) is an accountant. What does he want to be if he does not want to be an accountant — the prime minister?”
But opposition parties led by the BJP put their weight behind the CAG.
BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi charged the Congress of “misusing” constitutional authorities for political gains.
“Congress has been targeting constitutional authorities and forcing them to work according to its own needs… and because the current CAG did not yield … he was charged as one working at the behest of BJP.”
Terming the criticism of CAG as ‘unfortunate’, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury lamented that ‘there is a decline in standards of political behaviour’.
CPI leader D Raja said the government had got into the habit of undermining the CAG after it came out with reports alluding to scams.