N. Ramakrishnan
N. Ramakrishnan

N. Ramakrishnan writes on infrastructure, renewable energy, cement and automobiles, and, of late, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Ramki is passionate about journalism; loves nature, reading, bird-watching, photography, politics and urban development.

N Ramakrishnan

Congress (I) and the CAG

| Updated on March 13, 2013 Published on March 13, 2013


There must be something with the Congress (I) that gets it riled up against a constitutional body like the Comptroller & Auditor General. One cannot really blame the party for having this attitude; after all, having been in power in some form or the other for all but 12 of the 65 years that India has been independent, it is only natural for the party to feel that all organs of the government, and democracy, are there to do its bidding, even if they are constitutional bodies discharging the very duties that they are charged with doing.

The present Comptroller Vinod Rai has been at the receiving end from the Congress (I) ever since the CAG presented its report on the 2G spectrum allocation, pegging the loss to the exchequer at an unbelievable figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. This report was followed by one on coal block allocations, which too came out with a high figure of loss to the State because of the allocation policy followed by the Government.

The latest is the auditor finding flaws in the Rs 52,000-crore farm loan waiver scheme. The CAG has found evidence of tampering, over-writing and alteration of records in the scheme. It also pulled up the Department of Financial Services for deficient monitoring of the scheme.

Following the report on the 2G spectrum allocation, the then Telecom Minister A. Raja lost his job, was arrested and spent quite some time in jail before coming out on bail. There have been ministers who have ridiculed the claim and loudly stated that there has been no loss whatsoever; there have been calls for having a multi-member CAG; there have been senior party leaders who have mocked at the CAG. Some like the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and Congress (I)’s expert commentator on all issues Digvijaya Singh have been more strident than the others. Media reports have quoted Digvijaya Singh as suggesting that like a former CAG, Vinod Rai too is nursing political ambitions after his retirement. Rai’s term ends in 2014.

This is not the first time that the Congress (I) is battling the CAG. The last was in 1989 when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister and the CAG picked holes with the Government’s Bofors arms purchase.

T.N. Chaturvedi, who was CAG from 1984 to 1990, ran foul of the Congress (I) when his report on the Bofors gun indicted the then Rajiv Gandhi led Government. Chaturvedi, on his retirement, joined the BJP, which nominated him to the Rajya Sabha and later on made him Governor of Karnataka. This is what Digvijaya Singh has hinted at in the media reports, when he has accused the present incumbent of having political ambitions.

In 1989, when the CAG report on the Bofors gun purchase came out, the Opposition coalesced around V.P. Singh, who had himself been in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet, including as Finance Minister.

The last time the Congress (I) fought with the CAG, it lost the elections. A National Front Government headed by V.P. Singh assumed office, supported from outside by the BJP and the Left Parties. Is there a lesson in this for the Congress (I)? Unlikely. Simply because elections are due only in 2014, by which time, public memory, being short, the whole issue would have died a natural death. Or, events would have overtaken this issue.

The even more important reason why the 2G spectrum or coal block allocation issues will not have much of an impact is because of the ineptitude of the principal opposition party BJP. It is clueless, rudderless and leaderless and has enough and more issues to keep it occupied, what with the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi now making his aspirations for the Prime Minister quite obvious. The BJP sadly believes that the anti-Congress (I) and anti-incumbency votes will all come in its favour and that it need not do anything to mobilise the Opposition to get these votes. No wonder the Congress (I) looks smug.

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Published on March 13, 2013
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