Joshi defends CAG

Public Accounts Committee Chairman and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi on Thursday strongly objected to “unpleasant and baseless allegations” made by some Congressmen against Comptroller and Auditor-General Vinod Rai, whose reports had helped to pin the corrupt in the 2G spectrum and Commonwealth Games scandals.

He referred to the comment made by party spokesperson Manish Tewari that CAG had become known for “peeps, leaks and squeaks,” as well as remarks by other ruling party leaders that CAG had gone beyond his brief and legal duties or complaints that CAG was holding press conferences about reports submitted to the government.

The lengthy defence of Mr. Rai by Mr. Joshi led Mr. Tewari to make the following comment: “A person who is to exercise oversight on the CAG reports [the PAC Chairman, under the Constitution, examines the CAG reports] has now become his defence counsel. Is this a coincidence or does it point to a broader convergence of interests?”

Mr. Tewari was clearly hinting at a “broader convergence” of political interests in heaping allegations of corruption on the ruling government.

Earlier, Mr. Joshi not only absolved CAG of any suspicion that the leaks of the reports might have come from his office, but directly blamed the government for the leaks, adding that he knew the “government leaked the reports.”

He avoided the question on why the government would leak the reports since they had embarrassed the government and gave no explanation on how he would know who leaked the reports. Mr. Joshi agreed that while CAG is “not entitled to question government policy,” it can and does examine and report on “implementation of policy” for that is what a “performance audit” is all about. There was no ambiguity on this as the Constitution had clearly spelt out the CAG's role, he said.

As for the PAC, Mr. Joshi's view was that the Committee was a “storehouse of oxygen used to revive and cleanse the economy of the country” and it was also the instrument to be used for “cleaning the Augean stables of the government.” It was for members of the PAC to decide whether to call the Prime Minister or the Home Minister to depose before it on the 2G case.

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