Former civil aviation minister Praful Patel should have no hesitation in facing an inquiry over the large-scale purchase of aircraft by Air India if his conscience is clear in the matter, BJP’s Subramanian Swamy said on Sunday in light of claims in that regard by ex-CAG Vinod Rai.
“There is no doubt about Rai’s sincerity. I would say he (Patel) is defending himself by saying he had not taken the decision alone… So, he should not hesitate from an inquiry,” Swamy said.
Rai has claimed he was under pressure to drop the name of Patel from the auditor’s report on the purchase of aircraft for the public carrier. Rai had stated that Patel had nudged Air India to go in for large-scale purchase of aircraft.
The former CAG claimed that all hell broke loose when the draft CAG report reached the ministry and bureaucrats tried to prompt him to drop the word “nudge”.
Refuting the charge, Patel had said, “Air India Board took the decision and it was the Empowered Group of Ministers headed by P Chidambaram which decided on the number of aircraft (to be purchased) and this was approved by the Union Cabinet.”
Meanwhile, on another CAG report, which has accused political leaders of misusing public money for excursions, Swamy said, “More than the loss of money… It is absolutely wrong and immoral. We have to set an example for the rest of society that we are the trustees of the funds. We should minimise expenditure.”
He was speaking on the sidelines of a day-long conference on ‘Action Plan for National Renaissance’ here.
On reports of stone-pelting at armed forces in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir, Swamy said, “I have been saying it from the beginning that Kashmir should be kept under President’s Rule for a year and then elections should be conducted there. The debate over Art. 370 can be taken forward and I would say it should be abolished.”
Asked about reports of rift between Shiv Sena and BJP in Maharashtra over seat-sharing and the chief ministerial candidate, Swamy said, “There are minor differences in a family; It’s not a big issue.”
On reported incursions by Chinese in Ladakh, Swamy said, “We will have to check it. There has been no incident for the past 5-6 years. But in Aksai Chin, we have heard that their people cross over and stay on our territory for a short while. If those people come and settle in our region then it’s a grave matter. But if they are not settling and just cross over by mistake, then it is not an issue.”