NEW DELHI: A day before submission of the audit report on military procurement, including the Rafale jet deal, by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India to the President, the Congress on Sunday citing a “conflict of interest” said the exercise is a cover-up of the “scam”.
Holding Prime Minister Narendra Modi “guilty” of compromising national security, the Congress also criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central government for being “opaque, intransient, obscure and obstinate to cover up the layers of corruption in the Rafale scam”.
In a memorandum to CAG Rajiv Meharishi, the Congress accused him of committing “gross impropriety” by auditing the Rafale deal, saying as the Finance Secretary he was involved in the deal announced by Modi in April 2015.
“You were the Finance Secretary from October 29, 2014 to August 30, 2015, including at the time of unilateral announcement for purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft. Even at the time of cancellation of the 126 aircraft MMRCA deal you were the Finance Secretary.
“Consequently, you were directly involved in the Rafale deal on both these occasions as the Finance Secretary. Not only this, you were also involved in negotiations of the deal as a representatives of the Finance Ministry,” the Congress said in the memorandum. It accused Meharishi of being “complicit in the irregularities” in the deal and questioned his propriety to audit the deal as the CAG.
“The irregularities, bungling and corruption were happening at the highest level with your direct or indirect complicity and consent. This reflects your direct collaboration in the entire matter. “There is no reason or occasion for you to audit the 36 Rafale aircraft deal as you can neither be a judge in your own cause (case) nor can sit in audit over your own actions to which you were a party.
“This conduct points to a direct conflict of interest, making you a judge in your own cause (case) and rendering you ineligible to conduct any audit on the Rafale deal as CAG,” the party said.
Addressing the media later, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the CAG report was yet another attempt of the Modi government to cover up the “Rafale scam”.
“The CAG in his report, likely to be submitted on Monday, will not only defend his action in deal as then Finance Secretary but also do cover-up for the government. Despite all the irregularities happening before his eyes, the CAG will only come out defending the government and saying there is no corruption in the deal,” said Sibal.
“Being legally not entitled to audit the deal, the CAG should recuse and refrain from submitting a report on the deal,” said Sibal.
The Congress has repeatedly demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) in to the “country’s biggest defence scam”.