Centre throttling CAG to cover up corruption in its schemes: Congress
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera speaking to the media.

Centre throttling CAG to cover up corruption in its schemes: Congress

Pawan Khera said that three CAG officers, who had flagged issues in the Bharatmala Project, Dwarka Expressway, and Ayushmann scheme of the Modi government, were abruptly transferred.

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The Congress party on Saturday (October 21) accused the Modi government of attempting to silence the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, asserting that the government was transferring officers who exposed "wrongdoings" in significant government schemes.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera claimed that three CAG officers, who had flagged the wrongdoings in the Modi government's Bharatmala Project, Dwarka Expressway, and Ayushmann scheme, were shunted out unceremoniously.

He claimed that CAG G C Murmu is so much under "pressure" that he is refusing to sign any reports despite the fact that at one time he was considered to be a favourite officer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The Modi government has become compulsively criminal by committing the crime of destroying autonomous institutions," Khera, the party spokesperson and Chairman of the Media and Publicity in Communications Department, said at a press conference.

He said media and the civil society were silent on the matter, in stark contrast to their actions ten years ago, when the UPA was in power and when mass protests were staged in the national capital's Ramlila Maidan.

He recalled how some TV channels and civil society activists ran a "relentlessly malicious campaign" against then-prime minister Manmohan Singh on the basis of "leaks" of a former CAG.

All those reports on which that malicious campaign was based were proven false and fabricated, he said.

Khera in the press conference claimed that under the Centre's Ayushman Bharat scheme about Rs 43,000 crore has been found to be "misappropriated." Quoting the CAG report, he said in several cases as many as 200 compensations were shown to have been paid against a single phone number. In the Bharatmala project, he said, the work that should have cost Re 1, cost Rs 14.

He said that besides these three projects "wrongdoings" have also been found in the collection of tolls by the National Highway Authority of India, as well as in projects related to the Ayodhya Development, Rural Development Ministry, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Khera claimed that the "witch-hunt" did not stop with the transfer of three officers only, but written orders were issued and the staff was asked to stop all fieldwork.

CAG, which released 55 reports in 2015, came up with only 14 reports in 2020, Khera said, pointing out its diminished role in government accountability. "This will not be tolerated." "... within days of these damning CAG reports, the officers who were in-charge of auditing these projects, were transferred, summarily transferred, shamelessly transferred, immediately transferred," he said.

Khera also claimed that a mail was sent to Mumbai by the CAG saying that all fieldwork should stop and showed a copy of the mail.

"Not only did they throttle a seemingly independent autonomous institution, but they did it shamelessly because they are not afraid of the media anymore. They are not afraid of the civil society any more.

"The fear created by Anna Hazare while wearing the Gandhi cap, that fear is gone. Therefore we come to you again with folded hands, please! Let governments be afraid of the media because only then will democracy survive," the Congress leader.

(With agency inputs)

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