New Delhi: Taking potshots at Vinod Rai over his comment that placing reports in Parliament can't be the Comptroller and Auditor General's only role, Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh on Friday asked whether the former intended to become the country's prime minister, if not an accountant.
Singh said the CAG's working is defined in the Constitution and everyone should do his or her work according to those definitions.
"If the judiciary will do the executive's work, the CAG will formulate policies and the civil society will formulate laws, then how will democracy run? What does the CAG want to become if not an accountant? Does he intend to become the Prime Minister?" he added.
Rai, whose reports on losses from 2G spectrum and coal block allocations sparked allegations of massive corruption in the government, in his lecture at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts (U.S.) yesterday said that the role of a public auditor cannot be confined to merely placing reports in Parliament.
"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 in the social sector such as rural health, primary education, water pollution, environment, drinking water etc?" he said.
It may be recalled here that the Congress-led UPA II Government has debunked the CAG's reports and accused it of exceeding its mandate.
In the CAG's defence, Rai said that Indian democracy is maturing and the urban middle class is getting more involved in citizen's affairs.
"We continue to tread the new path in the belief that the final stakeholder is the public at large. The CAG's audits ensure judicious use of public money," Rai said.
"We may not be able to wipe out corruption, but our endeavour is to uncover instances of crony capitalism. The government should be seen to support enterprise per se and not particular entrepreneurs," he added.
Maintaining that the auditing of government and public entities has a positive impact on trust in society, Rai said: "It focuses the minds of the custodians of the public purse to use resources effectively, as they know that after an audit scrutiny, the public will be aware of their actions."
Manish Tewari attacks CAG for criticising govt on foreign soil
Slamming the CAG for criticising the government on foreign soil, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari today said Constitutional authorities should circumscribe by Lakshman Rekha propriety.
"...it is most unfortunate that C and AG 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," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters here.
He was responding to questions about CAG Vinod Rai's remarks at Harvard Kennedy School yesterday rebutting criticism that he was exceeding the mandate and saying that the auditor was treading a "new path in the belief that the final stakeholder is the public at large".
"...The question is about the integrity of numbers. Our question to Mr C and AG, where is the 1.76 lakh crore (loss), still continues to hang in the air," Tewari said.
He said this was not the first time he (the CAG) had done it (criticising the government). "And this is not the first time that he has done it, I think constitutional authorities, you know, should circumscribe by the Lakshman Rekha propriety."
Delivering a lecture at the Harvard Kennedy, Rai, whose reports on various scams had raised hackles of those in government, had said the CAG would endeavour to uncover instances of crony capitalism and counselled the government to support enterprises per se and not entrepreneurs.
"We may not be able to wipe out corruption, but our endeavour is to uncover instances of crony capitalism. Government should be seen to support enterprise per se and not particular entrepreneurs," Rai, who has come under government criticism for reports on various scams like in telecom and coal, said.
Asked about European Union raising the issue of accountability for 2002 Gujarat riots, Tewari said he wondered why Chief Minister Narendra Modi could not stand up and take responsibility as it happened under his watch rather than India being subjected to these homilies from foreign diplomats." I think, there is a certain ignominy attached to it."