A political row erupted on Sunday over former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai’s claim that he was pressurised by the then UPA government to drop certain names from audit reports in coal block allocation and Commonwealth Games scams.
The Congress retorted and asked Rai why he hadn’t made these facts public while he was in office. “Sensationalism formed the staple of his tenure,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
“If at all he was under any pressure or 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 asked.
Tewari reiterated his “standing invite” to the ex-CAG for a public debate on any of his claims. “It would be my pleasure to demolish the findings which he had come to in his reports, so that the nation comes to know conclusively what the truth really was,” he said.
Rai’s remarks caused fresh embarrassment to the Congress, which had earlier come under attack from the BJP and other political parties over CAG reports on scams during the UPA regime.
After demitting office last year, Rai is writing a book, Not Just An Accountant, set for release in October. His book, like those written by former PM Manmohan Singh’s media adviser Sanjay Baru, former external affairs minister K Natwar Singh and former coal secretary PC Parakh, is expected to be critical of the UPA government.
Rai’s revelations gave fresh ammunition to the BJP for an attack on the Congress. “We want Congress to reveal names of those who were putting pressure on Rai,” party spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri said.
However, the Congress got support from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Janata Dal (United). NCP’s Tariq Anwar and JD(U)’s Ali Anwar said Rai’s remarks would have been taken seriously if he had made them during his tenure.
SP leader Naresh Agarwal said Rai was inclined on joining the BJP. “Guidelines should be framed against such people so that they do not indulge in this kind of sensationalism,” he added.