Party stands behind Sheila Dikshit indicted in CAG report on Commonwealth Games

Even as the Opposition demanded that Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit step down now that the Comptroller and Auditor-General's report on the Commonwealth Games — released officially in Parliament on Friday — has held her government guilty of mismanagement, the Congress indicated that it was in no mood to cave in. In fact, it is more than apparent that the Congress has decided to back Ms. Dikshit, at least for the moment.

“The CAG report has only pointed out procedural lapses by the Delhi government,” a senior party functionary told TheHindu, stressing “this is very different from the Karnataka Lokayukta's report on [B.S.] Yeddyurappa: in his case, the report was able to establish his direct involvement in the loot.” Other party functionaries, too, concurred with this view.

But even as the Congress closed ranks on the issue of Ms. Dikshit, it took the precaution of cancelling its official briefing on Friday, thus avoiding an “official” comment from the party.

Of course Ministers, waylaid by TV journalists, could not avoid responding to questions on the CAG report. But they, too, backed Ms. Dikshit.

“There can be an objection that can be of a normal administrative nature, which may be found to be unacceptable by the CAG or a court for that matter,” Union Law Minister Salman Khursheed said. “But we have to let Parliament see what kind of report is being made, what reply if at all is there to the report and let Parliament make up its mind.” Mr. Khursheed was referring to the fact that the CAG report will now be examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Union MoS for Science and Technology Ashwani Kumar, too, told journalists that there was no finality in the CAG report. “The report of CAG has no finality attached to it as far as indictment of the Chief Minister [is concerned],” he said. “This report has been extensively commented upon by the Chief Minister. Let the two views come out in the open. The debate should be rational, rather than political.”

But even as the Congress backs Ms. Dikshit, there is no doubt that in the public arena, the report — even though it has not established any evidence of direct wrongdoing against the Chief Minister — is embarrassing for a party and government, battling grimly against corruption charges coming in fast and thick.

Indeed, the Yeddyurappa episode that preceded session this of Parliament had come as a breather for the UPA government, compelling the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to first agree to a “joint resolution” with the Congress on the price rise issue, and then accede to pushing the debate on corruption and black money to the third week of Parliament, behind discussions on price rise and internal security (which will come up next week).

But with the release of the CAG report, the BJP itself may find that it is being forced to bring the issue of corruption to the centre stage again. If that happens, and the BJP — and other Opposition parties — decide to disrupt Parliament next week on the CAG report, the Congress, party sources said, will have to rework its strategy to keep things going in Parliament.

More In: National | News