Former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel tonight trashed claims made by former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai that he had nudged Air India to go in for large-scale purchase of aircraft.
"I rubbish the claims made by Vinod Rai. A former bureaucrat, Rai should know the rules of business of government. Decisions of such nature can only be taken after clearance of the Project Investment Board and approval of the Union Cabinet," he told PTI.
Rai has claimed that he was under pressure to drop the name of Patel from the auditor's report on the purchase of aircraft for the public carrier. Rai had stated that Patel had nudged Air India to in for largescale purchase of aircraft.
The former CAG claimed that all hell broke loose when the draft CAG report reached the ministry and bureaucrats tried to prompt him to drop the word "nudge".
Refuting the charge, Patel said, "In this case, Air India Board took the decision and it was the Empowered Group of Ministers headed by P Chidambaram which decided on the number of aircraft (to be purchased) and this was approved by the Union Cabinet."
Patel said Rai should be made aware that he had ceased to be the Civil Aviation Minister in January, 2011 and that the auditor had submitted his report some six months later.
"The question of anyone going to him (Rai) and talking to him or his officers at my behest from the Civil Aviation ministry itself contradicts his claims and I don't wish to join issue with people like him," he said.
Slamming the CAG over his remarks, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi alleged political motive behind them.
"These are nothing but rejected allegations primarily made by Subramanian Swamy, which did not stand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court and the special CBI court," he said and suggested that the former chief auditor was in league with the BJP.
He also wondered as to why he has not uttered a word on serious strictures passed by the CAG in Gujarat against the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
While the Congress spokesperson accused Rai of showing "unsatiated hunger for publicity" before the launch of his new book, former party MPs Sanjay Nirupam and Sanjay Dikshit, who were accused by Rai of putting pressure on him, demanded an apology from him and threatened to drag him to the court.
Rai, whose loss estimates in 2G spectrum and coal block allocations pushed the then UPA government into a corner had also claimed that the then Congress MPs, including Dikshit, Nirupam and Ashwani Kumar, had sought to put pressure on him to keep the Prime Minister's name out of the said CAG reports.
At the AICC briefing, Singhvi downplayed Nath's remarks and rejected the contention that these have vindicated Rai's charge.
"Nath has said nothing of the sort what Rai said. It's a complete distortion to compare the two...Many people write letters, raise their concerns...Rai is speaking of complicity. Then he should have filed an FIR, become a witness...It is nothing but an exercise in self-advancement, self promotion," he said.