Rai's principal auditor R.P. Singh will also be quizzed by the JPC
The Congress contingent in the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), currently examining the 2G spectrum allocation case, is hoping that its sitting on Monday will provide some relief to the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which has been facing unrelenting flak on the corruption front.
Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) Vinod Rai and his principal auditor R.P. Singh — the man who had disputed the losses estimated by the CAG in its report on the 2G issue – will both be questioned by the JPC.
With reports suggesting that Mr. Singh may have been pressured to sign the final report — with file notings by Deputy CAG Rekha Gupta giving directions to Mr. Singh to read the report in only 15 minutes — the Congress, party sources have said, believes the dissensions within the CAG can come to its aid. “Collectively, the JPC owes it to the country to present the correct facts before the country,” a Congress functionary told The Hindu, adding — in a reference to the figure of a loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore cited by the CAG — “institutions cannot indulge in flights of imagination.”
Party managers feel that there is a need to divorce the scam element in the 2G issue spectrum allocation case from the government's “first come first served” policy if it is not to fall into the Bofors trap that continued to haunt the Congress for decades after that scandal broke. They feel that the government should take ownership for the “first come first served” policy as opposed to the auction route, emphasising that the government's goal was to increase cheap mobile telephony, which has been achieved (rather than make money through the auction route) from jailed former Telecom Minister A. Raja's “reinterpreting that policy.”
Party sources also added that after Mr. Singh's revelations were highlighted at the last JPC meeting by Congress members, senior Opposition members there said that if that was the case, they did not understand why the JPC had been constituted in the first place.
Documents through RTI
Recently, documents have surfaced through the Right to Information Act (RTI) that show that while the auditor was calculating the losses caused by the scam, there were differences within the department that were allegedly suppressed. Mr. Singh, on his part, had suggested that the presumptive losses from the telecom scam were Rs.2,645 crore, but was apparently overruled.
JPC chairman P.C. Chacko has been reported as saying that after examining Mr. Singh, “the auditor whose calculations on the loss were at variance with what the CAG finally estimated,” the JPC will examine Mr. Rai. The two men have been called separately to avoid the sort of trouble that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) faced when the two were called together, with Congress members forcing an adjournment of the meeting.