RP Singh, a retired former official of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), who has been much in the news over the last 24 hours for claiming that his own calculation of losses in A Raja’s spectrum allocation scam were a mere Rs 2,645 crore, may not be telling the whole truth.
Reason: his draft report also discussed loss figures as high as Rs 4.19 lakh crore. And he himself had tossed out his field staff’s estimates of losses that were 10 times his own.
Given the huge difference between the figures allegedly preferred by Singh and CAG Vinod Rai in his final report, who put an upper estimate at Rs 1.76 lakh crore, Congress politicians have been making political capital out of it, and demanding answers from the CAG.
The voluble I&B Minister Manish Tewari has, as usual, jumped into the fray throwing accusations all around. “What is extremely important is that in May 2010, when the draft report is prepared by RP Singh, the loss is quantified at Rs 2,645 crore. But in November 2010 (when) the report is presented before the parliament, the loss jumps to Rs 1.76 lakh crore," noted a cock-a-hoop Tewari.
Since Singh also claimed that PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi had discussions with Vinod Rai before the final CAG report was presented, Tewari asked pointedly: "Who is responsible for the 2G loss figure in the report?" He implied that Joshi and Rai may have done this fudging. Joshi has rubbished the claim as an attempt to dent the CAG's reputation.
Other Congress spokespersons also called for a probe into this “serious charge”.
However, like Arvind Kejriwal, who has been repackaging old scams in new press conferences, the Congress is merely fishing out a detail today that was already in the public domain a long while ago, when RP Singh’s report was first flashed by The Indian Express.
The original loss figure computed by the CAG’s field audit team, which worked under Singh, was Rs 26,685 crore. But Singh junked this figure as “there was no conclusive evidence for the loss.”
Vinod Rai, in a presentation to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) investigation the 2G scam, rebutted Singh’s points comprehensively. He said that one of the estimates made by Singh - Rs 1,02,498 crore - was included in the final report.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, the southern half of the Express empire that is owned by Manoj Sonthalia, Rai told the JPC that Singh had, in fact, made many estimates, with some presumptive loss figures going up to Rs 4.19 lakh crore. He also contradicted Singh’s claim that the CAG forced him to accept the figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
Singh, who retired as Director General, Audit (Post and Telecommunications) last year, was the lead auditor of the 2G report. According to Rai, the Branch Audit Office (BAO) report in the 2G case was changed by Singh and the same process was carried on in the CAG office.
Rai told the JPC: “If the CAG cannot vet, examine, revise and decide on a recommendation of the DG, it also means that the DG cannot vet, examine, revise and decide on the findings and recommendations of the BAO.” This was a reference to Singh’s decision to junk his own field team’s loss figure of Rs 26,685 crore.
In short, Rai implies that Singh revised figures given out by the BAO office, and Rai revised the figures at a higher level to rectify Singh’s opinions. Rai also asked the JPC: “Should the figure of Rs 4.19 lakh crore, worked on the basis of DGA (P&T)'s calculation, have been retained?”
There is more to it than meets the eye in the curious case of Singh, who has conveniently chosen to speak out months after his original report was leaked to the Express, and at a time when the recent 2G auctions have failed, and the Congress wants to now prove to a skeptical public that there was no loss, there was almost no scam.
This is not to say that any loss figure is sacrosanct, but clearly CAG's accusers are not above board themselves.