The BJP today expressed reservations over the appointment of Shashi Kant Sharma as the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, saying there could be a “conflict of interest” as he will be auditing defence deals in which he had a role as Defence Secretary.
“Those who have a conflict of interest should not decide ... The new CAG will look into issues in which he had a role,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, said as the party alleged that appointments made to constitutional and statutory offices establishes that the policy of the Government is to subvert these institutions.
Asked about the party’s reaction to the appointment of the new CAG, the BJP leader said: “I won’t comment on the person. But in the government budget, the biggest expenditure is on defence. If the auditing is on this issue, he is himself auditing it ...”
In a joint statement, Mr. Jaitley and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, said “the policy of the UPA has been callous disregard of all democratic institutions. The quality of appointments made to constitutional and statutory offices establishes that the policy of the Government is to subvert these institutions.”
Mr. Sharma has spent over 10 years in the Defence Ministry during which high profile and controversial deals were finalised like the VVIP Chopper agreement that is under the scanner, with the CBI investigating allegations that bribes worth crores of rupees were paid to swing the contract in favour of the Italian company AgustaWestland.
They also said some key appointments made in important institutions by the UPA are questionable and courts had to intervene to protect such institutions.
“Be it the Election Commission, the National Human Rights Commission or the CVC, some of the appointments that the UPA made are highly questionable. At times, the judiciary had to intervene for institutional protection,” the statement said.
Mr. Sharma, a 1976-batch IAS officer who was appointed as CAG after Vinod Rai completed his term, has had a long innings in the Defence Ministry that saw him not only overseeing most major defence acquisitions in the past decade, but also managing a series of crises there.
He is now expected to play a significant role in audit of defence acquisitions, most of which took place during his tenure in the defence ministry.