New Delhi: The verbal duel between the UPA government and Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) continues for a long time. The UPA government is stepping up its attack on CAG after the recently concluded 2G spectrum auction. Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari led the attack asking Auditor General Vinod Rai as to why the spectrum auction had not yielded anything close to the loss it had estimated?
    
He asks "Mr CAG, where is the 1.76 lakh crore? I think it is time for some serious introspection. It’s time the CAG introspects on his processes and it is high time that the BJP and some of the other opposition parties, which had made this their holy grail and swansong of politics over the last two years, should publicly apologise," Tewari said while speaking to reporters.

After terming CAG's estimate of Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss in 2G spectrum allocation as a "myth", Finance Minister P Chidambaram also said the projected Rs 1.86 lakh crore loss in coal blocks allocation would also turn out to be a "mythical" and "fancy" number.

It all started when A Raja sold 122 telecom licences at Rs 9,200 crore in 2008, which CAG claimed that it is way much below the estimated price that the government could have got. It estimated the loss to be at Rs 1.76.645 crore. The lower price at which the spectrum was sold raised eyebrows over corruption involving in the process.   

Afterwards, the Supreme Court cancelled the 2G licences and the government recently auctioned these licenses again and yielded only Rs.9,407 crore. With the numbers the UPA is finding a new reason to mock the CAG which is at loggerheads with the government recently.

CAG ON CORRUPTION

Concerned over corruption, Vinod Rai cautioned that India cannot achieve and sustain high growth rate without transparency and accountability. "The brazenness (with which) decisions were being taken is actually appalling...", he said speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet at Gurgaon.

The Comptroller and Auditor General, however, noted that with the Right to Information (RTI) act administrative and political executive have become conscious that they "will have to be answerable".

"....each one of us will be held accountable, we are conscious of that," he said adding that everything is in the public domain.

GOVT FOR MAKING CAG A MULTI-MEMBER BODY

Battered by various CAG reports on alleged scams, government says it is "actively" considering a proposal to make the official auditor a multi-member body.

Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy says Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has become "more impatient" and he wants that all constitutional bodies to work within their parameters.

"It (making CAG a multi-member body) is under active consideration. The government is actively considering it," he told media in an interview.

OPPOSITION AGAINST MAKING CAG A MULTI-MEMBER BODY

The opposition slammed the government over its ‘active contemplation’ to make the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) a multi-member body. Addressing media on Monday, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the government of trying to undermine the authority of the office of CAG to cover up corrupt practices.
“Any move to reduce the authority of CAG will be opposed,” Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Speaking in Chennai on Monday, former BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu said, “Congress has always tried to undermine the powers of the constitutional authorities. The Prime Minister earlier had said raised questions on the observations of the CAG and termed it disputable. He had also said that the CAG’s observations will be challenged before the PAC.”

Naidu slammed PM for making such statements. “Whenever the Congress is in trouble or faces criticism, they try to weaken the institutions if they are constitutional bodies. Now it is very clear that the Congress is not able to digest the independent and autonomous CAG and is going with the move to make CAG a multi-member body," he said.

"They (Congress) did the same thing even in 1980s when CAG looked into Bofors contract and HDW Submarine deals. They quashed the locus standi and auditing methods. They even criticised CAG on 2G spectrum report and declared that there was no loss," he said.

SPECTRUM SALE ‘DELIBERATELY MANIPULATED’

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi on Sunday alleged there was a possibility that the recent flopped spectrum sale was "deliberately manipulated" to show that the CAG's calculation of presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer was erroneous.
    
"There is a possibility that this auction has been deliberately manipulated," Joshi told during a press conference in Kolkata.
Expressing surprise at "important telecom players not participating", the former BJP president demanded an investigation into the entire process of bidding.
    
"The Central Government is now attacking the CAG, the supreme auditor of the country, and their main argument is regarding its report on 2G spectrum which was also discussed by the Public Accounts Committee," he said.
   
JPN/Agencies

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