Wednesday, November 12, 2014

If I am pushed, I would think of one more book : Vinod Rai

Sunday, 21 September 2014 | J GOPIKRISHNAN | in Agenda

In a free-wheeling interview, Vinod Rai, whose tell-all book has brought up several debatable topics, shares with J GOPIKRISHNAN  the intricacies of his tenure as the 11th Comptroller and Auditor General of India

Your critics are asking what your motive to have come out with this book now is . How do you answer such queries?

Actually after retirement, I thought of letting this thing be a closed chapter. Whatever CAG can say, we had put it in our reports. But still some people were making allegations against me and the institution. My colleagues also suggested that I should put all these things in a book, which can be understandable to the common man.
Our CAG reports are not widely circulated and are technical in nature. I thought we should educate and alert the younger generation. These details will give them a perspective of our system and would lead to a demand for transparency in the future. As alleged by some people, I am not trying to attack anyone, neither do I have any motive.
In this book, you have devoted an entire chapter on the CBI’s ‘dirty tricks’ against you after the 2G scam came to light. Were you hurt by the UPA Government’s dubious move to turn the CBI on you?

I am not hurt. I was extremely surprised when I got an e-mail from a journalist, Dheeraj Tiwari, of The Economic Times on November 30, 2011, asking me for response on the CBI move to launch a preliminary enquiry (PE) against me.

I straight away called CBI Director Amar Pratap Singh. He said no such thing was proposed against me, but a probe had been launched against my former colleague Atul Rai. He sent an officer providing the details of the case.
The information report provided by the CBI officer showed that a PE was registered against Rai, CEO and MD of IFCI, and unknown officials of the Ministry of Finance. The allegations related to some investment decisions of IFCI. Rai worked with me in the Finance Ministry before he took command of IFCI. According to the PE, in February 2007, I apparently helped Rai to be expeditiously relieved from the ministry to become the CEO and MD of IFCI. In many places in the CBI report, my name was mentioned in a bid to put pressure on me and create innuendos. CBI’s PE gives an impression that Rai and I are close relatives. Let me state that I don’t even have a distant relation with him.
I decided to take on the CBI Director and told him that I will go to the media if the agency dared to do such nasty things. I asked him, “How can you do such things against a constitutional authority. If I am challenged, I will go to the media and expose it all”.
You must be aware of the persons behind this dubious move, but haven’t mentioned them in your book.

They decided to hit me personally after the 2G scam blew out. It was to injure my credibility and break me, to make me weak. I don’t want to name or identify the person or persons behind this move. Obviously, they were showing their vendetta for the CAG report on 2G. It must be a person powerful enough to influence the CBI Director.
Anyway, now your enemies are no more in power and you don’t have to worry about the CBI case.

The CBI has not yet closed this case. Why is it not closing this PE? It is simmering somewhere. Can you treat officials like this? I am a constitutional authority. Can the CBI do such things? Are they empowered to put my name in their information reports?
In your book, there is no mention about the role of your former boss and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the 2G scam. After the CAG report, his role came out and even courts have said that he and A Raja decided the price and approved the sale of shares to foreign companies jointly. How did your audit miss this angle?

We have audited the documents from the DoT. We also checked the documents from Finance Ministry. We have found objection of Finance Ministry officials. Those days, we did not come across these documents. These things had not been brought to our notice.
Later, it was proved that Chidambaram always insisted on illegal non-paper method for communicating with Raja.

No comments. Those days these things were not available to us.
CAG officials are facing tough resistance from Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance in KG Basin audit. What is your advice to the Government in this regard?

They are not co-operating. Documents are not shared with us. The Government has to take a call. Actually, the Government invited us to conduct an audit on KG Basin. Hence my suggestion is that in an original contract, there should be a clause providing liberty to the Government to appoint a Government auditor as and when it wishes.
Now you are facing legal actions for your revelations. Sanjay Nirupam sent you a notice. What is your strategy?

If they want to pursue the case, I am ready. I have said only the truth. They have abused me, called me names in the PAC meeting; there are minutes of the meeting. I will request the Speaker for the proceedings of the PAC. I must tell you that some good samaritan MPs had already given me all details which will prove what Nirupam and Sandeep Dikshit did to me in the meeting.
Moreover, there is a letter written by PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi to all MPs condemning certain MPs’ behaviour towards me. This letter details how these MPs behaved with me in the PAC meeting. In that letter dated November 18, 2011, Joshi cites a Speaker’s ruling which made then Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon apologise to the CAG. These things are enough for me to prove my points in the court. I am ready to face anything, if they want to proceed.
But your book is silent on the JPC proceedings. We have heard there are certain Congress MPs like Manish Tewari who did the same to you.

No, it was different. Manish was aggressive in questioning. In PAC, Nirupam and Sandeep were calling me all sorts of names. They used the words — fraud, politically motivated etc. In public, politicians and ministers called me rogue, r-virus, Bhoomihar from Ghazipur etc. I have explained all these things with fitting rebuttals in my book.
Certain media organisations were also after you.

Generally, media always supported CAG and widely published our findings. Of course, some were against us; very few have vested interests. But most of the people in media always supported us.
What are your future plans? Entering politics or writing more books?

As far as politics is concerned, I can say no, never. I am not fit for politics. More books? Well, if I am pushed, I would think of one more book. I have not yet taken any decision on future plans; may be I will in a month’s time. I am not saying no to more books.
So you have more arsenal in store…if you are pushed?

I said if I am pushed, I will write one more.

[Published in 'The Pioneer'  on Sept 21, 2014]

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