The BJP on Friday rejected retired CAG official R P Singh’s allegation that there was an attempt by PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi to influence the outcome of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s 2G report, calling it a Congress “conspiracy” to “malign” institutions such as the CAG, PAC and Parliament.
“It (Singh’s allegations) is an attempt by the government to cover up its corruption by defaming institutions which are the watchdogs of misappropriation of funds,” Joshi said, reacting to Singh’s claims made in an interview to The Indian Express on Thursday.
The BJP backed its senior leader later in the day. “We want to say with responsibility that the government is tainting constitutional institutions like CAG to wash its taint of corruption. But it cannot cleanse itself,” party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
However, having borne the brunt of the Opposition attack over the CAG report, the Congress seized on Singh’s allegations to assert that the BJP stood “exposed”. “Yes, certainly I think so,” Congress president Sonia Gandhi said in response to questions over this.
Joshi, however, insisted the Congress, including Sonia, had got their facts wrong. “These kind of remarks by an important leader are unfortunate. It, in fact, has exposed her and her advisors for not verifying facts before making such remarks,” he said.
Rejecting R P Singh’s claims, Joshi said the retired officer — who was DG, Post and Telecommnications at CAG — “is not a toddler who can be forced to say what he did not want”, when he himself was the author of the report. He also stressed that Singh had been CAG’s lead presenter before the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) and had made no such suggestions then.
“CAG reports go to the government at least thrice before these are submitted before Parliament. Then how can I influence the report?” Joshi told reporters.
As for Singh’s claim that several CAG officials had met Joshi while the audit was still on, the BJP leader did not deny the same but said there was noting unusual in this. “Such is the relationship between the PAC and CAG that CAG officials keep meeting the PAC chairman. What is unusual in it? How can you find anything unusual if the prime minister meets the cabinet secretary or some other seceretary over the weekend or a holiday?” Joshi said.
The PAC chief and BJP also questioned the timing of Singh’s revelations