Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi today denied allegations he had tried to influence the report on the 2G telecom spectrum allocation scam by secretly meeting the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) at his residence.
“These are technical subjects and CAG acts like a guide, philosopher and friend of the PAC. This is mentioned in the guidelines of the relation between CAG and PAC. We have to prepare questions for PAC members and understand the issue. So, CAG can meet the PAC anytime. This attack on CAG and PAC is to end the discussion on corruption because there is an attempt to prove the figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore wrong so that all the other loss figures can be challenged,” Joshi said, adding he was willing to resign if allegations against him were proved.
The controversy came to light after R P Singh, former director general of audit, post and telecommunications, claimed the presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore by CAG was not part of the draft report prepared by him. “The audit of the Ministry of Telecommunications was directly under my charge and I had prepared a draft audit report covering each and every aspect. My report did not contain any loss figure,” he said. Singh claimed he had estimated a loss of only Rs 2,645 crore and had signed the report that presumed the loss at Rs 1.76 lakh crore on the orders of his seniors.
Joshi said initially, Singh had explained the entire spectrum allocation process but he hadn’t complained he was being forced by seniors in the CAG office to sign the report. He also dismissed allegations he had met senior CAG officials at his residence to influence the PAC report on the scam. He said the report was prepared by the Lok Sabha secretariat. Joshi also demanded Singh present proof to substantiate his allegations. “R P Singh had deposed before the PAC several times and he had given a power-point presentation as well. But he never complained he didn’t agree with the report or he was being pressurised by his seniors to sign the report. He didn’t even indicate it. Why is he saying all this now? R P Singh should be probed. What happened between R P Singh and CAG is not the concern of the PAC,” Joshi said.
Following the allegations, the BJP came under attack from the Congress. Asked whether the BJP had now been exposed, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi said, “Yes, I certainly think so.”
Joshi, however, said, “I think the Congress has been exposed instead. Those who advised her (Sonia Gandhi) to make the statement stand exposed. R P Singh had raised the issue earlier too. Why did she not speak out then?” he said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari demanded Joshi and CAG Vinod Rai should explain the allegations. “The issues raised by R P Singh, former director general of audit, post and telecommunications…are very germane. What is extremely important is in May 2010, when the draft report was prepared, the loss was quantified at Rs 2,645 crore. But in November 2010, when the report was presented in Parliament, this jumped to Rs 1.76 lakh crore. How did this leap of faith take place?” he asked.
While Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said there was a conspiracy against the government, Law Minister Ashwani Kumar questioned the integrity of the CAG. Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal rejected the BJP’s allegations the government was behind Singh’s claims.
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