After holding its fire for a day, Congress on Friday attacked the CAG questioning its stand that MPs cannot comment on its report on the 2G scam and wondered how its findings were leaked even before they were tabled in Parliament.
Endorsing Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal's criticism of the report, it also asked why there was no reaction from the Comptroller and Auditor General's office when the opposition leaders were commenting on its report.
At her AICC media briefing, Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan referred to portions of the CAG's press release on Wednesday and wondered whether there was any ruling prohibiting MPs from commenting on matters lying before a Parliamentary Committee. Her briefing today was in sharp contrast to another spokesperson Abishek Singhvi's comments yesterday that the comments of Sibal, CAG and the PAC were already in public domain and the party would not not like to queer the pitch.
Natarajan also took exception to the CAG release counselling restraint on the part of MPs while commenting on its 2G spectrum report on the ground that it could be "improper" and could amount to contempt of the Parliament.. "We are somewhat surprised and a little distressed because this seems to contain a suggestion that MPs do not have a right to speak on any issues when CAG report is being examined by a Parliamentary committtee....it was a very strong suggestion. She said that as far they knew there was "no such rule which prohibited an MP from speaking on an issue which is being considered by a committee."
Natarjan said that as an MP she would take a serious note of the CAG's statement as the it concerned her right to speak and also because the advice comes "from a body, which is not a part of legislative structure".
The Congress spokesperson also asked why no such reaction came from the auditor when the report was being reacted upon by everybody including leaders from the opposition parties. "Whether the suggestion is confined to criticism of the report," she asked, adding no no press release was issued when there was a stream of comments from the leaders of opposition.
Natarajan, however, parried a question about CAG's silence when BJP was commenting on the report. "I am not pointing out any thing....there should be one standard....there can be only one stand and there should be one stand....the suggestion that only a particular aspect would be improper was very surprising."
Natarajan also sought to know how details of the report, including the amount of presumptive loss of Rs.1,76,000 crore came into public domain even before the report was tabled. "I would like to how it happened and from where it happened. When MPs are advised about proper conduct, how these leaks come into public domain before the report is submitted to Parliament", Natarajan said. The spokesperson also made it clear that the party endorses Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal's comments on the CAG slamming its report on the presumptive losses in 2G Spectrum allocation.
"Yes we do support him on the issue" Natarajan said when asked the party supports whatever Sibal said about CAG report a few days back. Natarajan today said "it was not an unanimous view" when pointed out that PAC has criticised Sibal's attack on CAG in a decision taken unanimously. A senior leader speaking on the condition of anonymity said if anybody had to object to MPs speaking on an issue under consideration of a Parliamentary committee, it should have been PAC or Speaker and not CAG.
"It was sermons from the CAG. We are dismayed by the tone and tenor of the CAG release," the leader said. The leader also found nothing wrong in Sibal's attack on the CAG saying "what is wrong in the government putting across its views on the CAG report."