Former Comptroller Auditor General Vinod Rai has come out with a stinging criticism of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying integrity is not just financial but intellectual and professional too and claimed that Congress leaders had sought to apply pressure on him to keep the PM’s name out of audit reports.
Rai, whose loss estimates in 2G spectrum and coal block allocations pushed the then United Progressive Alliance government into a corner, was also critical of the coalition politics under 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.
He was asked what was his understanding of PM’s psychology considering that many revered him as an elder statesman. Rai replied that “you cannot have the nation being subjugated to the state and the state being a coalition of political parties. The belief was that good politics makes good economics too. But does good politics mean just staying in power?”
“In 2G and coal there is no way he (Singh) can shirk responsibility? In 2G, all the letters written by (then 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.”
He added, “On one occasion when I called on him, the PM 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?” Rai said.
Recalling that 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, 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.”
He further alleges that the then Congress MPs, including Sandeep Dikshit, Sanjay Nirupam and Ashwani Kumar, had sought to put pressure on him to keep the PM’s name out of the said CAG reports. “That was a futile attempt,” Rai said.
Raising concerns over CBI being under the "direct control" of the prime minister, former top auditor Vinod Rai has said that "a police dominated" agency can't enjoy autonomy or independence available to the CAG or the Election Commission.
"It is true that a police dominated investigative agency cannot enjoy the kind of autonomy or independence offered to the Election Commission or the CAG..." Rai has written in his book, 'The Diary of the Nation's Conscience Keeper -- Not Just An Accountant'.
The book, in which Rai talks about his experience as the Comptroller and Auditor General of India during 2008-2013, has incidentally come amid a long-running debate on independence and autonomy of CBI, while a controversy has also erupted about alleged meetings of current CBI chief Ranjit Sinha with those linked to entities under its probe.
While observing that successive governments and various political parties have always been critical of CBI, Rai said that none of them actually took any "steps to correct the CBI's administrative control structure when they come to power".
"It can certainly be decoupled from the direct control of the Minister for Personnel or the prime minister. Such a move will not only lend a great degree of credibility to the initiating government, but will also help establish an agency with professionalism and integrity of its own," he said.
In the 267-page book, Rai further said that CBI has always been blamed by the political parties to be a "handmaiden of the government in power" and of being misused for "narrow political ends".
"The CBI, unfortunately, gets caught in the crossfire. Being an executive agency functioning in the Department of Personnel -- which is directly under the Prime Minister -- makes it vulnerable to speculations," he said.
Observing that the current structure of CBI makes it vulnerable to speculation, Rai said in such an administrative bind, "the agency becomes easy game for a Law Minister to 'correct its draft affidavits'".
"... it (CBI) is exposed to allegations of reopening investigations whenever a political ally or opponent begins to flex its muscles, and of 'fixing' inconvenient officers against whom cases can drag on for decades without even a charge sheet being filed".
"These issues made the Supreme Court comment that the CBI is a 'caged parrot' without the freedom to investigate or administer," he said.