NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal today accused the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of being “complicit in the irregularities” in the Rafale fighter jets deal and alleged “the bungling was happening at the highest level with his direct or indirect complicity and consent”.
The Congress leader claimed that CAG Rajiv Mehrishi, who was the Finance Secretary at the time when the deal was inked, will try to save the BJP-led NDA government in a bid to save himself.
“CAG is going to completely save the government in its report. The whole deal was materialised in the supervision of Rajiv Mehrishi who was the then Finance Secretary. When the negotiations started the Ministry of Finance were part of it,” Mr Sibal said.
Mr Sibal said that the CAG cannot act against himself as there lies a conflict of interest in doing so.
“This is a corrupt deal and fair investigation should be done, but how can the CAG investigate himself when he was the Finance Secretary? There is a clear conflict of interest,” he claimed.
He also alleged that the government knew beforehand what would be in the CAG report, which, he said, is likely to be tabled on Monday.
The Congress leaders demanded that Mr Mehrishi recuses himself from presenting the CAG report into the controversial Rafale deal. “He must recuse himself from presenting this report. If it is tabled in the Parliament, it will be another big scam,” said Mr Sibal.
He also warned that they are “watching” government officials who are trying to show excessive “loyalty” towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“They should know that elections come and go, sometimes we are in opposition and sometimes we are the ruling party. We will keep an eye on officials who are over-enthusiastic and trying to show loyalty to the Prime Minister. They should remember that the Constitution is bigger than anything,” Mr Sibal told reporters today.
Union minister Arun Jaitley, however, described the charge as another attack on the institution of CAG by the “institution wreckers”. He explained that defence ministry files are dealt with by Secretary (Expenditure) and the Secretary (Economic affairs) has no role in expenditure files of the Defence ministry.
After ten years in Government former UPA ministers still don’t know that Finance Secretary is only a designation given to the senior most secretary in the finance ministry.
Another central minister, Rajyavardhan Rathore, said after doubting the independence of the Supreme Court and the Election Commission, the Congress has shifted its focus on the CAG.
“After doubting the Independence of SC & EC, now @kapilsibal & Congress are casting aspersions on the CAG! Because Congress subverted every institution of the country, they feel everyone else is as morally corrupt as them! What kind of politics is this where nothing is sacrosanct?” he tweeted.
The Congress has accused PM Modi of being directly involved in the alleged irregularities committed in the purchase of 36 fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation in a fly-away condition.
PM Modi had announced the deal during his visit to France in April 2015, a year before the formal agreement was signed. But the deal negotiated by PM Modi is different from the one negotiated by the UPA government, which involved 18 Rafale jets bought in a fly-away condition and the remaining 126 would have been manufactured by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Holding the Prime Minister “guilty” of compromising national security, the Congress also criticised the BJP-led central government for being “opaque, intransient, obscure and obstinate to cover up the layers of corruption in the Rafale scam”.