Ex-CAG Vinod Rai conspired to bring down UPA govt, must tender unconditional apology to nation: Congress

The Congress accused former CAG Vinod Rai on Friday of being a conspirator to destabilise the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government and demanded that he apologise to the nation for doing so

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera (File Photo)
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera (File Photo)

NH Political Bureau

A day after former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Vinod Rai apologised to Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam for ‘inadvertently and wrongly’ mentioning his name during book-launch interviews in 2014, the Congress launched a blistering attack on him and asked him to tender an unconditional apology to the nation.

Saying that Rai and people associated with the 'India Against Corruption' movement conspired to ‘destabilize and bring down’ the then UPA government, Khera alleged that Rai was working at the behest of the RSS.

“The actions of Vinod Rai throughout in retrospect were proven to be that of a conspirator and not that of a government official. His allegations against the Prime Minister’s involvement in the scam was rubbished by the court,” said Khera.

Notably, court had given a clean chit to the then PM Manmohan Singh and the UPA government saying, “Absolutely no hesitation in holding that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove any charge against any of the accused, made in its well-choreographed charge sheet”.

Special Judge O P Saini had observed in the 1522-page 2G Spectrum Judgement in December 2017 that “There is no material on record to indicate that the Prime Minister was misled or the facts were misrepresented to him…”.

Calling out key leaders of the IAC movement like Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, VK Singh for conspiring with Vinod Rai, Khera questioned, “Where was the nation’s so-called conscious book-keeper sleeping?” when “Rs 11,500 crore scam happened in PNB under his Chairmanship of the Banks Board Bureau.”

Saying that the CAG reports did not even come up for discussion in Parliament, Khera asked, “Who among this gang of opportunists has uttered a word about anti-corruption crusade or the Jan Lokpal?”

On behalf of the Congress party, Khera demanded:

  • That Vinod Rai apologize to the entire nation in the same manner that he unconditionally apologized to Sanjay Nirupam

  • That Vinod Rai returns to the government treasury all the facilities which were given to him as a reward or as remuneration subsequent to his retirement

  • That he spend his post-retirement life providing his continued services to the RSS located at Reshim Bagh in Nagpur 'which was secretive until now can be done openly'

  • That all those 'puppets', who were involved in this treason by becoming co-conspirators, should also apologize to the country. 'Coming to their master, the people of India will give their master a befitting reply.

It may be recalled that in 2018, Andimuthu Raja, former telecom minister who was acquitted in the 2G scam trial, alleged in his book ‘2G Saga Unfolds’ that the entire episode was an attempt by the opposition to bring down the UPA II, in which former CAG Vinod Rai was complicit.

Reacting to the same, chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had told The Print:

The entire 2G scam was based on malicious slander and manufactured lies. It raises serious questions about the role played by the then Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai, the efficacy of his report and its intent.

The presumptive loss theory was neither used before, nor thereafter, as a benchmark for calculations made by the Comptroller’s office. The report was considered so unreliable that the CBI never consulted it while prosecuting in the case.

The entire conspiracy of falsehood is evident because of three things.

One, Rai said there was presumtive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. Later, his deputy, R.P. Singh claimed that the loss was Rs 2,645 crore only, and that he was forced to inflate figures. The CBI said the loss was Rs 30,984 crore. Then, the SC-monitored CBI came to the conclusion that there was no scam or loss. This itself tells the story of a sinister conspiracy.

Two, using this presumptive loss theory of the CAG, Parliament was held to ransom by the BJP. The only beneficiaries of this manufactured set of lies was Narendra Modi, and the two leaders of the opposition at that point, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj. This clearly indicates who benefited politically from this conspiracy to tarnish images, soil reputations, and bring disrepute to the entire country.

Thirdly, the present government rewarded Rai by appointing him the Chairman of the Bank Bureau. Conclusions now need to be drawn by every sane person to realise who the kingpin of this entire conspiracy was. It is left to the wisdom of the people to draw appropriate conclusions in view of the court verdict.

Arvind Mayaram, former finance secretary, had said:

Now that the court’s decision is here, there is nothing more to be said about the 2G scam. The court’s order is clear and detailed.

When the scam happened, I was the Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, looking after telecommunication. The Ministry of Finance recommended that it would be better to auction the entire spectrum. As the Finance Ministry, we had a bias towards revenue maximisation.

However, the Telecommunications Ministry believed that it would be better to continue with the first-come-first-serve basis, which had been the practice since the allocation of the first spectrum in 2001 in larger public interest.

This was a policy choice made by the government. The guiding principle was that the greatest number of people should benefit from it. In the late 1990s, incoming phone calls would cost Rs 19/minute. Hardly anyone had a cell phone. After the Vajpayee government introduced it, revenue sharing telecommunication services spread rapidly among all classes. That was policy choice then. In fact, the first-come-first-serve principle was introduced during that period.

We must understand this clearly, that in the end, the auction money that was recovered from the operators by the government was obviously to be recovered by from the consumer.

While making policy choices the government can either maximise revenue or maximise the benefit to people. It was considered to be in the interest of the people that the first-come-first-serve policy was implemented.

Auditors do not have the authority to challenge policy decisions made by the government. They can comment on whether it is fully followed or not, but cannot tell the government how to make policy. The CAG office—I will not name particular people—overreached in the 2G case.

This adversely affected the economy. The government went into litigation with several foreign companies. The banking sector is still reeling under the impact of the 2G scam. Most of all, the reputation of the country was in shambles. To foreign investors, it seemed like India was a banana republic, where decisions made by the government can be challenged by anybody. The credibility of the country was being questioned.

The CAG, in my opinion, should not have stepped into the realm of the executive. Whenever any institution, the CAG, or the judiciary, steps into the realm of the executive, a messy situation arises. That’s what the 2G case became, a very messy situation.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 29 Oct 2021, 6:08 PM