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Aug 31, 2012 at 01:38pm IST

Vinod Rai is politically ambitious, not CAG, says Digvijaya Singh

Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh on Friday clarified his comments against the Comptroller and Auditor General of India saying they were not meant for the Constitutional body, but for the person who currently holds the office.

In an interview with IBN 18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, the Congress General Secretary said that one must wait for the CBI reports on the case to come out before jumping to conclusions.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Ok, has Congress declared open war against the CAG. Joining us now is the Congress General Secretary, Mr Digvijaya Singh. Appreciate your joining us, Mr Digvijaya Singh. It appears the gloves are off. Considering your interview to the Indian Express whereby you said that the CAG has political ambitions, do you have any proof at all to back your allegations?

Digvijaya Singh: Rajdeep, first of all, I have given no interview to Indian Express. Whatever I have said was to Aaj Tak and I stand by that. Number two, I have drawn a parallel with Mr TN Chaturvedi. He came out with a Bofors report which implicated then PM Mr Rajiv Gandhi. Since then, nothing has been proved against Mr Rajiv Gandhi and the issue is dead now. Later on, Chaturvedi went on to get a BJP ticket. He was appointed a governor during their tenure.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Sir how can you link the current CAG Vinod Rai to TN Chaturvedi, without any proof to say he has political ambitions?

Digvijaya Singh: Just listen to me. Is there any precedence where CAG and office holders have held a press conference over their reports? The press conference by the current CAG was unprecedented. Number two, 2G, coal and airport authority, they have come out with figures… I have gone through the report.. I fail to understand how they have come at the figures. The government is the authority, which lays down its policies. It's a welfare state. And on basis of that, it fixes the policies and implements them.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Why shoot the messenger Mr Digvijaya Singh? If you have a problem with the CAG report, go to PAC, defend yourself. You are making it a public battle between the Congress and the CAG.

Digvijaya Singh: Please understand, Digvijaya Singh is a responsible person who has been in office for a long time. I hold the Constitutional authorities in highest respect. What I have said is against the person, not the office. The timing of the presentation of this report just before Parliament meets.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Are you saying that Vinod Rai is batting for the BJP?

Digvijaya Singh: What I have said is my personal opinion.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Are you saying that Vinod Rai is batting for the BJP?

Digvijaya Singh: I have said he has political ambitions.

Rajdeep Sardesai: So you mean that Vinod Rai is backed by the BJP? Isn't that a serious allegation made on the basis of mere perception? Shouldn't it be based on evidence?

Digvijaya Singh: I am not talking about any party here. But this is the personal perception of Digvijaya Singh that he has political ambitions.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Aren't you denigrating the institution of the CAG?

Digvijaya Singh: No, I am not. I have the greatest regard for the CAG. But the CAG too should be careful of what they present in their report, not make wild allegations. Based on theory and based on facts which don’t hold water.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Sir, at the end of the day, there is a question mark over the way in which allocations were made. All this would be debated before the PAC. So shouldn't you focus more on that instead of casting aspersions on the CAG?

Digvijaya Singh: Rajdeep, would you request the BJP to let Parliament function so that debate happens? They are holding the country to ransom.

Rajdeep Sardesai: One by one, everyone of Congress, is seeking to demolish the personal integrity of Vinod Rai.

Digvijaya Singh: Well there is no harm if anyone has got political ambitions. I have not spoken against his personal integrity. It was just my perception. Under him, CAG officers have gone on record to speak about their reports, which is unprecedented.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Will you concede that there is evidence of irregularities in the way the coal blocks were allotted?

Digvijaya Singh: Well I am not privy to the Screening Committee reports. I think it is available with you people. You can make a judgment. Digvijaya Singh is not in the government. We have just followed the policy that was in place since 1993. All I know is that our honourable PM wanted a transparent method of auction, which was opposed by the BJP chief ministers, which was opposed by the state governments. Therefore, it took us time to decide. Now, auction could not take place because the law of the land was not there. The CAG didn't know this.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Would you concede that the real issue presently is investigating the coal block allocations scam without indulging in politics.

Digvijaya Singh: I totally agree with you. The CBI is investigating it. Let us wait for their report.

Rajdeep Sardesai: But your allegations against the CAG, won't they, in some way, hamper or influence the investigations?

Digvijaya Singh: No, not at all. I am not influencing the CBI or Parliament. That is my perception. I may be wrong, but I stand by it.

Rajdeep Sardesai: It appears that Digvijaya Singh's strategy every time, whether it is Baba Ramdev whom you called a thug, or Team Anna, is if you can't shoot the message, shoot the messenger.

Digvijaya Singh: Every word I have spoken about these people has come correct. Please concede that.

Rajdeep Sardesai: There will be those who believe that Digvijaya Singh is one person in the Congress who takes on these individuals. But is this your or the Congress's strategy – shoot the messenger?

Digvijaya Singh: No it is not correct. I am not the spokesperson of the Congress, let me remind you.

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