'An Incontrovertible Indictment Of Government'
Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express says the three reports are raising deep and fundamental questions about governance. Taken together they amount to an incontrovertible indictment of government.
A lot of the whispering against the CAG reports comes from an unstated fear: such scrutiny will slow down decision making. It will create economic uncertainty. These risks are present. But we have to face the fact that there is a lot more poison waiting to come out of the system. The system now needs to respond constructively and internalise new norms of governance, based on horizontal accountability, transparency and public reason, instead of arbitrary discretion. The CAG’s reports are part of the great cleansing now under way. In the medium to long run, these will make government stronger, not weaker, because it will be forced to ask the right questions.
You can contest the CAG’s numbers. But the reports, even if they do not say it, leave us in no doubt that the government is a rotting ancient regime. It is a deep morass of evasions, dereliction of duty, and outright fraud on the taxpayers. The responsibility for this runs to the highest levels, including the prime minister. He is, doubtless, an honourable and honest man. But will he admit that the government is at least guilty of a sin even worse than corruption: gross incompetence of the kind that has put the country’s future at risk?
Read the full column at the Indian Express: Great cleansing act
Writing in the Hindu, Ramaswamy R. Iyer is furious at 'the relentless campaign of an unprecedented ferocity' against the CAG: Continuing onslaught on the CAG
it is sad that persons of such eminence should attack a constitutional functionary either on the basis of inadequate understanding or with the deliberate intention of obfuscating issues.
T.N. Ninan in the Business Standard:
Turning the disadvantage of inaction to advantage, a too-clever-by-half minister reassures us that the wealth is still in Mother Earth (zero loss without it being zero loss, if you know what he means). And what about credibility? Some nobodies from a Delhi back-street set up a company with a capital of Rs 1 lakh, and got a coal mine allotment, but Mr Sibal wants us to believe that transparent and detailed guidelines were in place and being followed. The Prime Minister remained frozen till he emerged to recite poetry about the virtues of silence in the face of serious accusations. Is this a government or a vaudeville show?
Yashwant Sinha in the Economic Times:
If frequent adjournment of the Lok Sabha due to interruptions and disorderly scenes resulted in the loss of time of 10.66% during the Twelfth Lok Sabha, it increased to 19% during the Thirteenth Lok Sabha.
In February 2000, a circular issued by the Gujarat government, allowing its employees to take part in the activities of the RSS paralysed the business of Lok Sabha for at least 10 days. In December 2000, the House was paralysed once again for eight days when CBI filed a chargesheet against three Union ministers in the Babri Masjid case.
A major part of the budget session of 2001 was lost because of the Tehelka sting operation. The same thing happened when the Comptroller and Auditor-General report on the purchase of coffins for the armed forces was presented to Parliament. Parliament was disrupted and George Fernandes was boycotted by the Congress in Parliament. He was described as a Kafan Chor.
When the US forces invaded Iraq in early 2003, despite the fact that the prime minister himself made a statement expressing strong opposition to any military action in Iraq, the Congress insisted on Parliament passing a resolution condemning the US action. They disrupted the proceedings of Parliament again for many days until finally the great democrat Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee instructed us to work out a compromise which we did.
Only then was Parliament allowed to function. Compare Sonia Gandhi's belligerence today to the statesmanship of Vajpayee then.
Sukumar Mukhopadhyay in the Mint also insists: the CAG report should be:
"properly debated and discussed in Parliament. But equally, the government’s adversarial attitude to the CAG must change. The office should be complimented for doing a stellar job in pointing out a serious systemic flaw. The role of a constitutional post cannot be limited to pettifoggery.
Ramaswamy R. Iyer in the Hindu says the concerted campaign to discredit CAG, a constitutional functionary is very disturbing and puts the ongoing debate in perspective:
Policymaking is the prerogative of the government. The CAG would readily assent to that statement. However, hypothetically speaking, if there is no clear record of a considered policy decision; or if in the making of policy the financial implications were not taken into account at all or wrongly estimated; or if the policy has the effect of conferring benefits on some individuals or groups to the exclusion of others; then these are matters on which the CAG has not merely the right but the duty to raise questions. Again, if the audit of the implementation of a policy brings to light deficiencies in the policy itself, the CAG must point this out.
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