New Delhi: Former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Vinod Rai said he had felt former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was part of the decisions to allocate 2G telecom spectrum on first-come-first-serve basis and coal blocks without auction, according to a report.
Coming out with a stinging criticism of Dr Singh, the former CAG said, integrity is not just financial but intellectual and professional too and claimed that the Congress leaders had sought to apply pressure on him to keep the PM’s name out of audit reports.
Mr Rai was also critical of the coalition politics under Dr Singh and suggested that he was more interested in remaining in power. “Integrity is not just financial; it is intellectual integrity; it is professional integrity. You have an oath of allegiance to the constitution and that is important,” he said.
Mr Rai said his phone was tapped and he felt Singh was part of the decisions to allocate 2G spectrum and coal blocks without auction.
“In 2G and coal there is no way he (Singh) can shirk responsibility. In 2G all the letters written by (telecom minister) A. Raja were to him and he was replying to those letters. I got no reply to any letter I wrote to him.
“On one occasion when I called on the Prime Minister, he said ‘I hope you don’t expect a reply from me’, whereas he was replying to Raja twice a day. So how can he be not held responsible for the onus of that decision?,” former CAG Mr Vinod Rai said.
Recalling that Dr Manmohan Singh had on November 16, 2010 told him that the figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore 2G loss was not the right way of computing, Mr Rai said he had told the then PM “‘Sir, these are the econometric methods that you have taught us’. This was sitting on the stage of Vigyan Bhavan”.
On audit of Reliance Industries’ KG-basin gas fields, he said, “The PM’s remarks about Reliance in a conversation do not nail him directly. In Reliance case, no decision was taken at the minister’s level. This he (Mukesh Ambani) was running it himself”.
Mr Rai said he did not get any support from the political establishment or the government at that time except for one or two statements by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
When asked if his phone was being tapped, he replied “100 per cent. Of course, it was being tapped”.
Asked if he had been the prime minister what his response would have been to the loss figures in CAG reports, Rai said: “I would have said that I would hold it in abeyance for the time being in the belief that I was damaging my politics in letting this unfold”.
He said Dr Singh was “overawed by the compulsions of coalition politics” and UPA’s response to scams was “tempered by politics”.
“If you are in politics and become the head of a government, your training in Oxford or Cambridge has nothing to do with it.
“It is ultimately robust commonsense applied in a particular systemized fashion that contains administration. You just have to have your antenna in place to be able to pick up whatever is there in the environment. And then with alacrity respond to it. But your response is the main thing.
In an interview to a national channel, Mr Rai claimed Congress MPs including Sandeep Dikshit, Sanjay Nirupam and Ashwani Kumar sought to bring pressure on him to keep Prime Minister’s name out of CAG reports on 2G and coal block allocation. “That was a futile attempt,” he said.
Asked if Singh could have averted the 2G scam, Rai said he found ministers of his own council advising him against using non-auction method of allocation of natural resources. He agreed with Mr Raja’s claims that Prime Minister was kept in the loop about the process being adopted for 2G spectrum allocation.
Mr Rai claimed he along with Mukherjee had met Singh to appraise about anomalies in the coal block allocation and corrective steps required. The former CAG said the then coal secretary P C Parekh had in 2005 recommended auctioning coal blocks and Singh, who was also the Coal Minister, had accepted this.
The process of allocation was leading to lobbying, pressure and windfall gains to the allottees, Parekh had written then. On CWG scam, Rai said the idea of a non-government body like Indian Olympic Association (IOA) spending government money but not accountable to government was incorrect both in form and substance. He was critical of former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel who he said had nudged Air India board to buy more 68 aircrafts instead of 28 planned earlier.