A key meet of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the 2G-spectrum scandal was shelved on Monday after members of the Opposition and the Congress clashed over the presence of Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) Vinod Rai in the meet.
Former director general of audit RP Singh had also come to depose. Singh, in a separate report, had cited a preliminary loss of R 2,640 crore, much lower than the CAG's estimate of R1.76 lakh crore in losses.
Congress members tried to corner Rai for allegedly inflating the losses, citing Singh's lower estimates. Singh, however, submitted to the PAC that he stood by the CAG’s final report that cited substantially higher losses.
Rai told the panel that Singh's jurisdiction was limited to the department of telecommunications and, therefore, his assessment was not complete. Rai said Singh’s jurisdiction did not apply to other sectors that had a bearing on the 2G sale.
Congress members Sandeep Dikshit and Sanjay Nirupam wanted Rai to leave the room. They argued Singh would not be able to speak freely in the presence of his former boss. Rai said he had come on the invitation of PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi. He also said he was ready to opt out, if the PAC chief wished so.
In a recent letter to the PAC, Rai had defended his estimates of losses in potential revenue due to less-profitable sale of spectrum, a scarce natural resource. He said Singh’s estimates were “preliminary”, which have been rejected by the finance ministry.
The BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab said Singh, who has since retired from service, should not have problem speaking in Rai’s presence. BJP’s Prakash Javadekar said Kapil Sibal should be asked to appear before the panel to explain his “zero-loss” theory.