Former Comptroller Auditor General Vinod Rai has attacked former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the 2G spectrum allocation, saying integrity is not just financial but intellectual and professional too.
He claimed that Congress leaders had sought to apply pressure on him to keep the PM’s name out from the audit report brought out by his office.
Rai, whose loss estimates in 2G spectrum and coal block allocations pushed the then UPA government into a corner, was also critical of the coalition politics under Dr Singh and alleged suggested that he was more interested in remaining in power.
Rai said that prime minister was the “primus inter pares (first among equals)” of the council of ministers and all matters of importance go him in a parliamentary democracy.
“The buck stops at the PM’s desk in any parliamentary democracy. He is the CEO of the country. He can stop, or he can initiate, both. I have written in the book that he probably chose not to stop,” the former CAG said.
“Integrity is not just financial; it is intellectual integrity; it is professional integrity. You have an oath of allegiance to the constitution and that is important,” he told a magazine.
He was asked what was his understanding of PM’s psychology considering that many revered him as an elder statesman.
Rai replied that “you cannot have the nation being subjugated to the state and the state being a coalition of political parties. The belief was that good politics makes good economics too. But does good politics mean just staying in power?”
On audit of Reliance Industries’ KG-basin gas fields, he said “the PM’s remarks about Reliance in a conversation do not nail him directly… In Reliance case, no decision was taken at the minister’s level. This he (Mukesh Ambani) was running it himself”.
Rai said he did not get any support from the political establishment or the government at that time except for one or two statements by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
When asked if his phone was being tapped, he replied “100 percent. Of course, it was being tapped”.
Asked if he had been the prime minister what his response would have been to the loss figures in CAG reports, Rai said: “I would have said that I would hold it in abeyance for the time being in the belief that I was damaging my politics in letting this unfold”.
He said Singh was “overawed by the compulsions of coalition politics” and UPA’s response to scams was “tempered by politics”.
“If you are in politics and become the head of a government, your training in Oxford or Cambridge has nothing to do with it.
“It is ultimately robust commonsense applied in a particular systemized fashion that contains administration. You just have to have your antenna in place to be able to pick up whatever is there in the environment. And then with alacrity respond to it. But your response is the main thing.
Rai, who is writing a book on his days as head of CAG also gave an interview to a news channel. When asked if the 2G spectrum scam could have happened without active involvement of the then prime minister, Rai said: “No, that’s exactly why I have said that if he had put his foot down, probably the fate and the course of UPA 2 would have been different.”