New Delhi, Dec 18 (IECurrentAffairs) All eyes will be on the response from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India Rajiv Mehrishi to the ‘clarification’ reportedly sought by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Mallikarjun Kharge on the Rafale combat aircraft row.
According to BJP sources here, the CAG is on “tour” these days and will be back in the capital only on Wednesday, December 19.
Sources said Mr Kharge in the capacity of chairman PAC has written to the CAG seeking ‘clarification’ as to whether the government’s official auditor has examined the Rafale related papers of the Defence ministry.
“If so, the CAG has been advised to mention some details, like dates or so and also about their findings. The CAG reportedly has been asked to clarify whether the CAG has recommended to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to examine the Rafale related papers,” sources said.
Mr Kharge in the capacity of 22-member PAC chairman is not likely to press for ‘summoning’ CAG Mr Mehrishi and the Attorney General K K Venugopal if there is “no unanimity” in the committee.
Sources said earlier as the panel chairman, Mr Kharge has applied his ‘suo motu’ discretionary power and did initiate the deliberations on Non Performing Assets (NPAs) in banks. “But this time around given the sensibilities of the case especially in view of the Supreme Court orders, he may not press for the same,” a source said.
Mr Kharge’s predecessor K V Thomas also initiated actions suo motu on two occasions – the Public Private Partnership issue with certain projects and the demonetisation of high value currencies.
“However, those issues did not find objections on merits in the PAC,” sources said.
Congress has only three members in the PAC including Mr Kharge, Bhubaneshwar Kalita and M V Rajeev Gowda.
BJP alone has overwhelming majority with 12 members from both the Houses in the 22-member panel.
Meanwhile, a section of BJP leaders say perhaps there needs to be a scrutiny of facts on what had ‘transpired’ between the CAG and the Congress delegation on October when they had met CAG and insisted that the government’s official auditor should examine the Rafale deal at the earliest.
“The Rafale Scam has now emerged as India’s Biggest ‘Defence Scam’……The stench of ‘Corruption’ and ‘Cronyism’ in the Rafale Deal is nauseating, requiring urgent intervention,” the Congress memorandum has alleged.
Sources said the CAG had “briefed them orally” on the initial findings or so on the high profile controversy.
On Sunday, key PAC members Bhartuhari Mahtab (BJD), Anurag Thakur (BJP) and P S Chandumajra (Akali Dal) disfavoured summoning CAG and Attorney General before the issues are discussed in the parliamentary panel.
“To demand JPC without any discussion in Parliament is like jumping the gun,” Mr Mahtab has said.
The role of PAC and especially its chairman Mr Kharge has come into focus ever since Congress President Rahul Gandhi had on Friday addressed a press conference stating that as parliamentary panel’s presiding officer Mr Kharge himself did not know whether CAG report on Rafale deal has been tabled or not.
Mr Kharge on Saturday favoured summoning the two key officials the Attorney General, government’s principal legal officer K K Venugopal and the CAG Rajiv Mehrishi on the related matters.
Mr Mahtab has said the Supreme Court verdict is an important development. “It has given a lifeline to the BJP, which suffered a major setback in recent elections,” Mr Mahtab told UNI here on Friday.
He said detailed discussions on the major defence deal inked by the Modi government and the French government is of utmost necessity as “no much information is available on the deal in the public domain”.
“Tell me, what is the information we have on Rafale deal…..What information do we really have except allegations, denial and at times counter allegations,” asked Mr Mahtab, who represents Cuttack parliamentary seat in Odisha.