Mumbai: As the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, Vinod Rai, nears the end of his tenure, he seems to be in a combative mood. Mr Rai targeted the government on Friday saying, "The people who have the mandate are what I would call typical bullies. If you stay silent they win. If you bark back and bite they run".
Mr Rai's comments come just days after his lecture at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he had said, "Should we as public auditors limit our role to placing reports in Parliament or go beyond that and seek to sensitise public opinion on our audit observations, especially in the social sector such as rural health, primary education, water pollution, environment, drinking water etc.?"
This had prompted Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh to say, "If the judiciary will do the executive's work, the CAG will formulate policies and the civil society will formulate laws, then how will democracy run? What does the CAG want to become if not an accountant? Does he intend to become the Prime Minister?"
Today, the CAG once again took on the political establishment saying, "This middle class ie the gen-next has grown up respecting the institutions, the system and the rule of the law. The political establishment, I'm sorry seemed to subvert these and hence the disharmony between the people and the government they voted in themselves. The need for able governance with accountability has never been so strongly felt as in the present day world".
Attacking the government he also said, "It is widely believed that this churning in the urban middle class has taken the administration by surprise. I believe it too and I have spent four decades in the administration. They were not prepared for such an awakening. They cannot conceive spontaneous crowds collecting. They are only accustomed to paid crowds being politicised for political rallies."
The national auditor added, "Governance should be the remedy and not the problem and that the state should be the facilitator and not the predator".
Speaking about the kind of politics that is being practiced in the country, Mr Rai said "The dominant culture of adjustment has become prevalent with honest and integrity becoming the casualty. The most often repeated statements by public officials over a large number of misdemeanors which have been reported are that the law would be allowed to take its own course. It is unfortunate that this is what exactly does not happen and nay numbers of impediments are created in the law taking its course."
Speaking about the figures mentioned by the CAG reports as far as 2G spectrum allocation and coal block allocation are concerned, the national auditor took on his challengers by asking them, "If you say the loss pointed out by us is too much that is alright as it is your opinion. But are you willing to condone that loss?
When Mr Rai was asked if he harboured any political ambition after his retirement, he replied by asking if it was wrong to harbor political ambition. He quickly added, "I will prove everyone wrong about these assumptions if you give me a job."
Manish Tewari, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, had recently said that the "CAG had a habit of saying these things when he was out of the country." The CAG making a stronger speech at home is being viewed as an answer to that allegation.
Mr Rai also announced that the body will audit the 'Adhaar' scheme as a lot of tax payers' money was being spent in the implementation of the scheme. When asked about the current VVIP chopper scam, he said "CAG conducts audit of the defence ministry and we have done it in this case (AgustaWestland deal) too. It will come to your notice very soon. We are conducting the audit".