Is the government's auditor becoming a victim of politics?

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New Delhi:  Meant to be a bipartisan parliamentary committee, the Joint Parliamentary Committee or JPC looking into the 2G scandal, seems to be fast turning into a political battlefield. Members of the JPC have hinted that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India - a Constitutional authority - may have acted in favour of corporate interests in coming to a presumptive loss of 1.76 lakh crores.

During the questioning of CAG Vinod Rai on Monday for three hours, there was a bitter exchange of words between Congress MP Manish Tewari and Mr Rai.

Mr Tewari questioned the CAG's presumptive loss figure, saying Rs 1.76 lakh crore can be as bad as Rs 4.19 lakh crore. He also asked why the auditors had left out the dilution of equity by a certain company, due to which a higher benchmark was not considered.

While saying that he did not want to insinuate anything, Mr Tewari pointed out that certain actions could be interpreted as sections within CAG batting for corporate interests.

Mr Rai raised serious objections to this. "I have explained the reasons for why we chose certain company to arrive at a presumptive loss figure," he said. The government's auditor once again defended the loss figure and reiterated that he sticks to it.

At one point in the deposition, Mr Tewari pointed out the discrepancies between loss figures and asked the CAG if he can point out a single figure on which there was unanimity.

To this, Mr Rai said, "Is it necessary to arrive at a consensus? That is not the way we function."

In a debate on NDTV this evening, Mr Tewari said, "It was not a charge, it was not meant to be an insinuation or an allegation. When you decide infusion of equity into a particular company it should become a benchmark for tabulating loss. Is it not fair that when a particular company which has received a higher valuation of equity is excluded? So, it does raise some reasonable and legitimate apprehensions as to why a certain things has happened? So, therefore, it was in that context."

Another JPC member and CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta was scathing in his stack of the Congress. He told NDTV, "There is an attempt by a section of the ruling party to run down a Constitutional authority and in the long run, paves way for weakening the democratic process. Since it does not suit some people in the ruling party, and the government, a virulent attack on the CAG, even questioning their bonafide is inadmissible in a multi-party democratic system. This is the short-sightedness of the political leaders."



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