If the Prime Minister was convinced that spectrum allocation should be transparent, what prevented him from executing his wishes says Rai

news Wednesday, April 08, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute| April 3| 9.30 pm IST Former comptroller and auditor general (CAG) has said there is no personal validation, vindication or victory in the current government’s recognition of malfeasance and action of coals blocks and spectrum, two of the major sectors audited during his tenure “I would not change one word either in my reports or in my book,” former CAG Vinod Rai has told The News Minute (TNM). “There is no question of vindication because contrary to what was being said in the media and elsewhere, there was never any vilification either on the part of my officers or myself. I was doing my job,” he added.  This is Rai’s first interview after the new government successfully started auctioning coal blocks thus blowing the lid off the former government’s actions (allocation of the blocks to agencies incapable of exploiting the natural resource) that resulted in enormous losses to the Indian exchequer.  Read- Picking up after 'Coalgate' and the 2G scam: How the bidding is unfolding Rai, however, did not wish to comment on any omission or commission issues relating to decisions by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has been summoned to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for questioning in the coal blocks allocation case. Neither did he wish to be drawn into commenting on what he calls the spectrum saga. But the answer to what is on Rai’s mind is found in his book “Not Just an Accountant,” which was released in 2014. Chapter five which deal with the 2G (spectrum) saga begins with a quotation from the former Prime Minister. “I feel somewhat sad, because I was the one who insisted that spectrum allocation should be transparent, it should be fair, it should be equitable. I was the one who insisted that coal blocks should be allocated on the basis of auctions,” Dr. Singh said on January 3rd, 2014.  “If the Prime Minister was convinced that spectrum allocation should be transparent, what prevented him from executing his wishes,” said Rai. He has made a similar argument in his book concluding that had Dr. Singh stood his ground, the fate of UPA 11 as well as the fate of the Indian economy would have been very different.  Commenting on the irregularities in the spectrum allocation, Rai said he knew what he was talking about and where the audit was heading. So did the others, especially people in positions of power. “My duty was to the nation and to the office I held, nothing more, nothing less,” India’s eleventh CAG said. The recent telecom spectrum auction has fetched a record Rs. 109.879 crores calling the UPA government’s zero loss bluff.  Rai examined some of the biggest scams to hit India during the last decade ranging from the XIX Commonwealth Games to coal blocks and spectrum. As he went about his work with his team, he was at the receiving-end of a dirty tricks department that looked for skeletons in his cupboard including land he owned with his family members. Congress politicians from Mani Shankar Iyer to Kapil Sibal, bureaucrats like N.K. Singh (who is now with the BJP) questioned his integrity and caste allegiance.  Was it difficult, putting it all down in a report followed by a book?  “The reports were part of my job. For the book, I had to think long and hard. I knew there would be consequences, but I could not live with myself if I had not written this book,” Rai said adding “the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed from the word go. I would settle for nothing less,” he says.  As for future projects, Rai, who is a Kerala cadre officer, says maybe a book on the enormous wealth in the Padmanabhaswami Temple in Kerala. “Such a small kingdom, so much wealth all guarded till recently with a simple padlock,” says the self-effacing former CAG.
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