The fresh remarks made by Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai against the UPA dispensation Friday triggered a war of words, with the government attacking him and the opposition throwing its weight behind him.
Slamming Rai for criticising the government on foreign soil, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said Constitutional authorities should circumscribe by "Lakshman Rekha propriety".
"...it is most unfortunate that CAG rather than validating the integrity of his numbers (on 2G presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore) chooses to criticise the government on foreign soil and at a foreign fora," Tewari told reporters in Chennai.
He was responding when asked to comment on Rai's remarks at Harvard Kennedy School on Thursday, during which he suggested that the government was trying to reduce the audit watchdog to a mere accountant.
Leaders of opposition parties supported the CAG, with the Bharatiya Janata Party charging the Congress with "misusing" constitutional authorities for its own political gains and said those who did not toe its line were termed as ones working for the opposition.
"Congress party has been a history-sheeter of misusing constitutional authorities for their own political benefits and using them as a shield to hide their own misdeeds. Congress party has been targeting constitutional authorities and forcing them to work according to its own needs, party vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Rai had Thursday said, "Should we as public auditors limit our role to placing reports in Parliament or go beyond that and seek to sensitise public opinion on our audit observations especially so in social sector audits such as rural health, primary education, water pollution, environment, drinking water etc."
Tewari said this was not the first time he (the CAG) had done it (criticising the government). "I think constitutional authorities, you know, should circumscribe by the Lakshman Rekha propriety," he said.