Why Kapil Sibal trashed the CAG report
Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai has asked Public Accounts Committee Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi for permission to react to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal's open attack on him over the 2G report, according to sources.
The Congress, which is already facing a flurry of corruption scandals, may also have to contend with the CAG 'exposing' the role of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit when he makes the report on Commonwealth Games public in the next 10 days.
On Friday, Sibal had told journalists, "We believe the exercise by the CAG was fraught with very serious errors which resulted in a kind of sensationalism which has allowed the opposition to spread utter falsehood to the people of India and we object to it. We are extremely pained at the methodology adopted by the CAG. Some figures have no basis whatsoever".
Reportage: Renu Mittal
Image: Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal
'It is highly improper'
According to highly placed sources, the angry CAG is all set to hit out against the government on the 2G scam issue.
Joshi reacted to Sibal's allegations by saying, "In my opinion, it is highly improper. The CAG has never said it is the exact amount. Mr Sibal should have read the report carefully".
Sources in the government say that the CAG is likely to drag in the role of the CM and the Delhi government in the CWG scam. Sibal therefore had a double motive for his attack on the CAG, say sources. He was trying to take the heat off Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the 2G scam and trying to prepare a base for the defense of Sheila Dikshit, who is likely to be the next Congress leader to face allegations of a scam.
Image: Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit
'Congress cannot say anything on this issue'
Opinion about Sibal's decision to take on the CAG is divided within the Congress. While officially the party has supported the telecom minister's stance, some senior leaders believe that he should have desisted from launching a personal attack on a person holding such a senior constitutional post. Sibal's attempts may prove to be counter productive, fear some Congress leaders.
All India Congress Committee spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said, "The CAG report is for scrutiny. Any member or Parliament or minister can raise a question mark on the CAG report based on the latter's findings. If Sibal has said something based on the documents, we do not think it is wrong on his part".
He added, "The party does not have any documents (related to the 2G scam). The party cannot say anything on this issue as the party has nothing to do with it. How can the party say what is factually correct and what is not".
Image: Former telecom minister A Raja
Congress can't afford another scam
There is a growing realisation within the Congress that the party cannot afford another scandal similar to the one that broke out after the CAG presented the 2G scam report to Parliament. The CWG mess, which is under investigation by various agencies, is mired in charges of corruption.
If Sheila Dikshit and her government find themselves embroiled in the scam, it would further damage the image of the party, which has already been cornered on several charges of corruption. It makes sense politically for the government to attack the CAG and cast doubts about its credibility, say sources in the government.
Sibal's statement, that there was no loss at all to the exchequer due to the 2G spectrum allocation, doesn't have too many takers. According to sources, Sibal's scathing attack on the CAG is sending out the signal that the PM is working overtime to bail out both former telecom minister A Raja and himself in connection with the massive scam.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh