M A I N   N E W S

Cong blasts CAG over coal fire, says auditor misused authority 
Anita Katyal/TNS

New Delhi, September 10
Even as the BJP will chalk out its agitation programme against the UPA government on coal block allotments later this week, the ruling combine has lost no time in launching its counter offensive, including a sharp attack against the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

While senior Congress ministers have started travelling to different state capitals to defend the government and nail the BJP for disrupting Parliament on this issue, party spokesperson Manish Tewari upped the ante today by criticising the national auditor, whose report that the national exchequer suffered huge losses in the allotment of coal blocks, has pushed the government on the backfoot.

Taking a cue from his senior colleague AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh who was the first party leader to hit out directly at CAG Vinod Rai, Tewari accused the “national auditor of misusing his constitutional authority”, adding that CAG was as much to blame for the wasted monsoon session of Parliament as the opposition. Continuing in the same vein, Tewari also suggested the CAG was acting at the behest of an opposition party though he did not name the BJP.

He said "history shows the mindset" of the CAG "matches certain parties", alleging that Opposition leaders had called up CAG officials for one of the reports. Tewari stated that the CAG's "notional figures" had caused embarrassment for the country which had even been questioned by independent experts.

Ever since the CAG report was tabled in Parliament, Congress ministers have repeatedly stated that CAG had exceeded its brief by questioning the government’s policy and had even questioned its methodology in calculating that exchequer lost Rs.1.86 lakh crore.

In his 32-page rebuttal, PM Manmohan Singh had taken on the auditor, describing his observations as “flawed and disputable.” Similar arguments were subsequently put forth by Finance Minister P Chidambaram and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal. In fact, they had also defended the government’s decision to take on a constitutional body like CAG. It was argued that if the Prime Minister, who also occupies a Constitutional post, can be questioned, CAG’s reports can also be placed under a scanner.

However, it was Digvijay Singh who had mounted a personal attack against Vinod Rai by accusing him of harbouring political ambitions like one of his predecessors TN Chaturvedi. The Congress leader recalled that as CAG, Chaturvedi had made adverse remarks against the Rajiv Gandhi government on the purchase of Bofors guns and subsequently joined the BJP.

While Tewari held forth in the Capital, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal was in Uttarakhand today where he put up a stout defence of the government’s policy on coal block allotments. 





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