UPA pressured me to drop names from CWG, coal reports, says Vinod Rai; Congress fumes

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 25 2014, 00:38am hrs
Vinod RaiVinod Rai claimed that some UPA coalition functionaries had deputed politicians to get him leave out certain names in this regard. PTI
In fresh embarrassment to Congress, especially former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ex-CAG Vinod Rai has claimed he was pressurised by the UPA regime to drop certain names from audit reports in Coalgate and Commonwealth Games scams, triggering a political row.

Rai claimed yesterday that some UPA coalition functionaries had deputed politicians to get him leave out certain names in this regard.

Congress today questioned the integrity of Rai and accused him of indulging in "senstionalism" while BJP demanded that the identity of leaders who "approached" him be revealed.

In remarks damning the previous dispensation, he has also claimed that UPA functionaries had roped in even his colleagues in the IAS, to which he belonged before his appointment as CAG, to persuade him to leave out names.

Like some of the books that have recently hit the stands including those by the media adviser of the former prime minister Sanjay Baru, former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and former Coal Secretary P C Parakh that have been severe on Singh and his government, Rai is penning his views in his forthcoming book "Not Just An Accountant" to be released in October, that will be critical of the UPA regime.

Rai, who had demitted office last year after several run-ins with the UPA government and had estimated a "notional" loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore in the 2G spectrum allocation and Rs.1.86 lakh crore in Coal Block allocations, made the comments, which was also severe on Singh, on the sidelines of a book launch event here.

He has said he would provide details of how sheer considerations of survival led Singh to acquiesce to decisions which caused huge loss to the exchequer.

"See the prime minister is the first among equals. He has to take the last call which sometimes he did, sometimes he didn't. Everything cannot be sacrificed only to remain in power. Governance cannot be sacrificed at the altar of compulsion of coalition politics. I have said it in the book," he said.

Today, Rai refused to meet reporters who reached his residence and declined to elaborate on his comments. But sources close to him said, "Each and every word in the book is factually correct. The purpose is not to tarnish image of somebody but to help in improving governance and systems in future. The language used in the book is so simple that people from all walks of life including students can understand," they said.

Slamming Rai, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari reiterated the "standing invite" to "Rai Sahib" to debate at any forum of his choice "sensationalism that formed the staple of his tenure."

"If at all, he was under any pressure or he was being coerced either obliquely, directly, implicitly that certain people be named and others deleted, was it not incumbent upon him to make it public at that point of time," he said.

He said Rai was perhaps "saving these little nuggets of sensationalism for what is a post-retirement pension plan these days -- that you write and create enough sensationalism around it".

Alleging that Rai has already vitiated public discourse by putting out "sensational numbers" about the scams in CAG reports, Tewari said he should revisit the entire issue.

"...it would be my pleasure to demolish the findings which he had come to in his report so that the nation comes to know conclusively what really was the truth," he said.

The BJP said that it is time for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to speak up and that Congress should come clean on the issue.

It said Rai's claims yesterday have vindicated its stand that the then UPA government was not only "misusing" constitutional bodies but was also putting pressure on them.

"We want the Congress to reveal the names of those who were putting pressure on the former CAG. Who were those people who had established contacts with Vinod Rai and went to his home", BJP spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri told reporters.

He said the charges against the previous UPA government made by BJP "have been proved true".

Another BJP leader Sambit Patra said Congress stood completely exposed after Rai's revelations.

"So after Sanjay Baru & Natwar Singh it's former CAG Vinod Rai who's ready to drop a "Book-Bomb" ... Carpet Bombing of the Congress on way!!", he tweeted.

BJP's Subramanian Swamy said Rai is an upright person with a flawless record and that it is time for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to speak up.

Hitting out at the former CAG, senior NCP leader Tariq Anwar said if Rai was under any kind of pressure, he should have spoken then itself and made it public.

JD-U also questioned the timing of the disclosure, saying if Rai would have revealed it before, it would have been taken more "seriously".