New Delhi, Sep 11 :
Former CAG Vinod Rai has attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the 2G spectrum allocation, saying that he “chose not to stop” the problems in the telecom sector and claimed that Congress leaders had sought to pressurise him to keep out PM’s name from the audit report brought out by his office.
In an interview to Times Now ahead of release of his book “Not Just An Accountant”, Rai said that prime minister was the “primus inter pares (first among equals)” of the council of ministers and all matters of importance go him in a parliamentary democracy.
“The buck stops at the PM’s desk in any parliamentary democracy. He is the CEO of the country. He can stop, or he can initiate, both. I have written in the book that he probably chose not to stop,” the former Comptroller and Auditor General said.
Asked if the 2G spectrum scam could have happened without active involvement of the then prime minister, Rai said: “No, that’s exactly why I have said that if he had put his foot down, probably the fate and the course of UPA 2 would have been different.”
“If he had put his foot down and stopped this process from unfolding. It could have been any other process, we are not prescribing a process, it could have been any other process, but this process was faulty in a large number of ways. And the government has also accepted that rules and regulations were not being followed, goalposts had been shifted,” he contended.
He said some ministers in the Manmohan Singh’s cabinet had been writing to him about problems in the telecom sector.
“I found that minister of his own council who were writing to him again and again, saying that problems are (there) or there is talk about developments in the telecom sector.
“I quoted Mr. Kamal Nath writing to the prime minister and expressing concerns about the development in the sector. I have written about the finance ministry expressing concerns, I have written about the law ministry expressing concerns. Now, all these things went to the prime minister,” Rai said.
He claimed that Manmohan Singh had given only a “template reply” to letter written to him by by former communications minister A. Raja of the DMK.
Rai, whose loss estimates in 2G spectrum and coal block allocations pushed the then UPA government into a corner, also referred to “compulsion of coalition politics” in the decision-making by the Manmohan Singh government.
Asked about reports that he had faced pressure by politicians concerning his report, Rai said that he had mentioned in his book that during the course of meetings in the Public Accounts Committee or the sidelines of the JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee), “a large number of people told him to keep this out and that out”.
“And I mentioned in the book that after the PAC meeting on the 2G, Congress MPs did tell me that keep the prime minister out of this,” he said.
Asked about the MPs, he said: A”There were 3-4 Congress MPs, they aren’t Congress MPs anymore. So its very easy to find out who are they.”
Pressed further, he said: “I can’t recall the names just now, but the Congress MPs who were present in those meetings were Sanjay Nirupam, Ashwini Kumar, Sandeep Dikshit. Now which of them were at the lunch telling me to do that, I really can’t tell you,” he said.
Rai’s book is expected to be released Sep 15.