New Delhi: Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh on Friday hit back at Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai after he blamed the government of crony capitalism during a speech at Harvard. Reacting to Rai's speech, Digvijaya said, "If not an accountant, what does he want to be? The Prime Minister? The Constitution has defined the role of the CAG. How will a democracy function if judiciary does the job of the executive, CAG makes policy and if civil society starts making the law?"
Meanwhile, Union Minister Manish Tewari, too, called it unfortunate. "It's most unfortunate that the CAG, rather than validating the integrity of his numbers, chooses to criticise the government on foreign soil and at foreign forum," said Tewari.
In a hard-hitting speech, Rai had defended his role. Rai said that the role of the public auditor cannot be confined only to placing reports in Parliament. During a speech at the Harvard Kennedy School of government, Rai spoke on the various scams in the government. Rai stated that the final stakeholder in his job is the Indian public. Rai, whose reports on various scams had raised hackles of those in government, said the CAG would endeavour to uncover instances of crony capitalism and counselled the government to support enterprises per se and not entrepreneurs. "We may not be able to wipe out corruption, but our endeavour is to uncover instances of crony capitalism. Government should be seen to support enterprise per se and not particular entrepreneurs," Rai said.
He said, "Should we as public auditors limit our role to placing reports in Parliament or go beyond that and seek to sensitise public opinion on our audit observations especially so in social sector audits such as rural health, primary education, water pollution, environment, drinking water etc." Maintaining that the auditing of government and public entities has a positive impact on trust in society, Rai said, "It focuses the minds of the custodians of the public purse to use resources effectively, as they know that after audit scrutiny, the public will be aware of their actions."
He referred to the CAG exceeding its mandate to say that since the Indian democracy is maturing and the urban middle class is becoming more involved in affairs of citizens, "we continue to tread the new path in the belief that the final stakeholder is the public at large".
Reacting to Vinod Rai's speech CPI leader D Raja said, "I understand the anguish by the CAG. Ever since CAG came with its report on 2G, CWG and coal, there is a tendency of the ruling government to undermine CAG." BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said, "I agree with what Vinod Rai has said, no doubt that he has strengthened the CAG."