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"National Auditor Allowed Itself To Become A Joke": P Chidambaram

"National Auditor Allowed Itself To Become A Joke": P Chidambaram
Highlights

Dubbing the CAG report on the Rafale jet deal as useless, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said on Thursday the principal government auditor has allowed itself to become a joke and failed the people of the country

NEW DELHI: Dubbing the CAG report on the Rafale jet deal as "useless", senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said on Thursday the principal government auditor has allowed itself to become a "joke" and "failed" the people of the country.

The report contains no useful information or conclusion and its motive is to hide the truth, he told reporters here.

Mr Chidambaram reiterated his party's demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the deal, saying only it can call for all relevant records.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is not "god", he said, apparently, rejecting the ruling BJP's contention that the national auditor's report should be the final word on the contentious issue.

Even the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee can examine the CAG report and seek the redacted or masked details from CAG, the former finance minister said.

"The government has given CAG the details ... it has the details but have not been made public," he said.

The CAG "allowed itself to become a joke and an honourable government in future will restore the prestige and credibility of the institution," Mr Chidambaram said.

"If you thought those 33 pages will bring to light the hidden aspects of the deal and explain matters relating to numbers, pricing, delivery etcetera and comment on correctness and propriety of transaction, you will be disappointed," he said.

Responding to a question on the BJP's claim that the controversy over the fighter jet deal is the creation of a ''corporate war'', he said there is no corporate war as it was Rafale versus Rafale. "We want Rafale. We want 126 not 36 aircraft," he said.

The former finance minister said it is significant that the CAG has "rejected" the claim of the government that the NDA-deal for 36 aircraft was cheaper by nine per cent, "not to speak of the boast of the government that it was cheaper by 20 per cent".

The report does not throw light on various issues such as justification to reduce the number of aircraft from 126 to 36, Mr Chidambaram claimed.

The report is also silent on the monetary gain to Dassault due to amortization of the India specific enhancement costs over 36 aircraft rather than 126 aircraft, he said.

Rafale manufacturer Dassault, EADS' Eurofighter Typhoon, Russia''s MiG, Sweden''s SAAB, the US'' Lockheed Martin and Boeing, were in the original Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender for 126 aircraft.

Details of the monetary gain to Dassault and monetary risk to India because of the waiver of sovereign guarantee, bank guarantee and escrow account are also part of the report, he said.

The issue of "hidden purpose" of waiving the mandatory anti-corruption clauses has also not been addressed, Mr Chidambaram said.

"When will the first and the last of the 36 aircraft be delivered and what is the probability of Dassault adhering to the delivery schedule? When will the delivered aircraft become a fighter aircraft and when will the process be started on the first aircraft and completed on the last aircraft," he asked the auditor.

He alleged that the CAG has "meekly submitted" to the "unprecedented demand of the government" and presented a report that contains "no useful information or analysis or conclusions".

"The CAG has failed the people of the country. I think I was not wrong when I said yesterday that the report may not be worth the paper on which it is printed," Mr Chidambaram said.

The much-awaited report of the CAG on the controversy-hit deal was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Modi government secured a 2.86 per cent cheaper price for Rafale fighter jets than what was negotiated by the UPA regime. However it flagged that removal of ''sovereign guarantees'' only benefitted the French manufacturer, and not India, according to the report.

It also pointed out that certain India-specific enhancements in the new deal were "not required" and the Ministry of Defence overruled the Indian Air Force's proposal to reduce the number of these enhancements.

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