Manmohan Singh knew of 2G scam as it unfolded: Former CAG Vinod Rai

NEW DELHI (TIP): Dr Manmohan Singh’s legacy came under yet another round of intense attack with former CAG Vinod Rai alleging that the former prime minister was aware of major scandals as they unfolded, refuting claims Singh was not fully aware of the machinations that resulted in humungous loss to the public exchequer and mauled the Congress party’s electoral fortunes.

The former CAG’s revelations challenge the defence of Singh that the 2G scam was perpetuated by A Raja using the political necessity of Congress to humour DMK, thus fastening the mega swindle to the reformist PM. Rai, whose book “Not Just An Accountant” is set for release in the next few days, claimed that Dr Singh was alerted by his senior cabinet minister Kamal Nath about the brewing 2G scam. Adding credibility to Rai’s claim, Kamal Nath admitted that he had cautioned Dr Singh against 2G allocations. “I wrote to the Prime Minister that I am hearing all sorts of things are going on in 2G allocation.

The PM chose to do nothing,” Nath told Times Now. The former commerce minister said he feels that had Dr Singh intervened “things would have been different for the Congress”. However, there was no point flogging a dead horse, said Nath even as he emphasized that “A Raja was prosecuted for what he did”, and that Rai should not resort to sensationalism to boost the sales of his book.

The former CAG also claimed that he was under pressure to drop the name of the former civil aviation minister from the federal auditor’s report on the controversial purchase of aircraft for public carriers. He said the then minister, Praful Patel, had “nudged” the public carriers to go in for the large-scale purchase. “All hell broke loose when the draft report reached the ministry and bureaucrats of all hues tried to prompt the CAG to drop the word “nudge”.

Patel denied the charge saying that he never met Rai. Rai’s is only the latest book from those who have had a ringside view of Dr Singh’s prime ministership, and who later chose to record the unpleasant realities of the PMO under him and the UPA government. Dr Singh’s former media advisor Sanjaya Baru, former external affairs minister K Natwar Singh and former coal secretary PC Parakh have all recorded the makings of many scandals that have marked the UPA decade, portraying the former PM as the leader who was not in control or unwilling to intervene. Rai said he was approached by three Congress MPs – former Law minister Ashwani Kumar who had to resign for allegedly pressuring the CBI to dilute PMO’s role in the Coalgate scam, Sanjay Nirupam and Sandeep Dikshit – to drop the name of the Prime Minister from the CAG report on 2G spectrum allocation.

“I mentioned in the book that after the PAC meeting on the 2G, Congress MPs did tell me that keep the PM out of this,” Rai said. Reacting to Rai’s claim, Sanjay Nirupam said the former CAG was lying. “I have never spoken to him,” Nirupam said. Rai said the irregularities in allocation of 2G licences date back to the tenure of Raja’s predecessor and his DMK colleague Dayanidhi Maran in the telecom ministry. “And we had evidence of the licence being given out at particular prices not only from Raja’s time but before also from the previous minister who was also from the DMK.

We found that there was a track record that the previous minister had started in a particular way and Raja followed that way. But Raja kept informing the PM what he was planning to do,” he said. Rai said then PM Manmohan Singh’s own cabinet colleagues were advising him against the licence allocation in arbitrary manner. “Like his own cabinet colleagues were saying that lets discuss this in a GoM. The finance ministry was also saying that lets bring it to a group of ministers.

The law ministry had also advised him to do that. But somehow it did not take place,” he said. The former CAG said former PM had enough time to stop the allocations. “It could have been stopped because between this letter of 26th December and 10th of January when the LOIs were actually issued, there was a fortnight’s time,” he said. “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,” Rai said.

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