Government hits back at CAG, draws flak

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 08, 2013 14:50 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) After Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai said at Harvard University, US, that the auditor has been advised not to exceed its mandate, the central government hit back at him Friday.

The BJP and the Left parties criticised the Congress and the government for undermining the country's official auditor.

"It is most unfortunate that the CAG, rather than validating the integrity of his numbers, chooses to criticise the government on foreign soil and at a foreign forum," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said.

Rai, in a speech on 'Social Obligation of Public Auditors' at Harvard Kennedy School in the US Thursday, said the official auditor was advised by "the highest in the land not to exceed our mandate, which they believe to be mere accountants and to conduct mechanical audit of government's expenditure".

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh also attacked Rai, saying: "All have their defined roles. He is an accountant. What does he want to be if he does not want to be an accountant, the prime minister?"

The BJP said the Congress had a history of misusing constitutional authorities.

"The Congress 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. The Congress has been targeting constitutional authorities and forcing them to work according to its own needs," BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said: "It is very unfortunate. There is a decline in standards of political behaviour. This steady decline in the past that we have been seeing is accelerated in Bengal."

Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said the CAG's authority was being undermined after it came out with reports on scams.

"I understand the anguish expressed by the CAG because ever since it came out with reports on 2G, CWG and allotment of coal blocks, there has been a tendency of the government and the ruling party to blame the CAG, undermine it and say that it is going beyond its mandate. It is they (the Congress) who are trying to undermine the CAG," Raja said.

Rai, in his speech, said the CAG was "introspecting" if its constitutionally mandated responsibility ended with placing reports in parliament or was it in any way "beyond this mechanical function that we perform?"

"We may not be able to wipe out corruption, but endeavour to uncover instances of crony capitalism. The government should be seen to support enterprise per se and not particular entrepreneurs," he said.

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