New Delhi, Feb 10: Amid reports that the Narendra Modi government has to submit the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the Rafale deal in Parliament in the coming days, Congress party on Sunday accused CAG Rajiv Mehrishi of conflict of interest as he was Finance Secretary during negotiations.
Addressing mediapersons in AICC headquarters here, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said Finance Ministry plays an important role in negotiations of the defence deals and Mr Mehrishi was the Finance Secretary during this period.
“How can the same CAG report against the decision taken, that compromised the nation's interest, when he was involved in it as a finance secretary?”, asked Mr Sibal and added that “this is a major conflict of interest. We now strongly believe that Modi government is doing everything to save itself”.
Mr Sibal pointed out that the new Rafale deal was announced by Mr Modi in France on April 10, 2015 and the old deal for 126 aircrafts was cancelled in June 2015.
“Mr Mehrishi, the current CAG, was appointed as the Finance Secretary from 24 October 2014 to 30 August 2015, during which the Prime Minister visited France and announced the deal for 36 Rafale aircrafts", said Mr Sibal and asked how will CAG investigate against himself?
The Congress leader alleged that Mr Mehrishi was directly involved in the Rafale deal on both these occasions as Finance Secretary.
“Not only this, the price negotiations of the 36 Rafale aircraft deal commenced in May, 2015. Representatives of the Finance Ministry, i.e. Member of the Cost Accounts Service and Financial Advisers were part of the Indian negotiation team. Hence, you were also involved in the negotiations of Rafale deal”, Congress pointed out in a memorandum to the CAG demanding to recuse himself from presenting the report.”
Attacking further, Mr Sibal accused that the irregularities, bungling and corruption was happening at the highest level with Mr Mehrishi’s direct or indirect complicity and consent.
“This reflects your direct collaboration in the entire matter. That being so, there is no reason or occasion for your to audit the 36 Rafale aircraft deal as you can neither be a judge in your own cause nor can sit in audit over your own actions to which you were a party”, said the former Minister.
Criticising the CAG, Congress party said that it was shocked by the fact that despite knowing these facts, he chose to neither recuse himself as CAG from auditing the 36 Rafale aircraft deal nor chose to inform either the Government or even the Congress delegation when it met him twice to discuss the irregularities and corruption in the Rafale deal.
“This conduct points towards a direct conflict of interest, making you a judge in your own cause and rendering you ineligible to conduct any audit on the Rafale deal as CAG”, the party said.
Referring to the Supreme Court verdict on the Rafale deal, Mr Sibal said that “CAG report was not submitted to the Parliament, as stated by Supreme Court in the verdict, and government must have already known the content of the report”.
“The role of the CAG became even more suspect when the Supreme Court delivered judgement on a PIL on Rafale deal on December 15, 2018”, said the Congress and added that “shockingly the Supreme Court rejected the PIL based on a CAG report”, which was not tabled in the Parliament.
“Your silence in the entire matter despite the name of the CAG being dragged to mislead the Supreme Court was even more intriguing as any reasonable person or institution would have come forward to call out the bluff and falsehood being perpetrated by the ruling Modi government”, the party alleged.
Mr Sibal demanded Mr Mehrishi to recuse himself and publicly accept the ‘gross impropriety’ committed by him in initiating the audit of the 36 Rafale aircraft deal. (UNI)