2:30 pm: Sibal says that the truth has emerged, promises 'corrections'
The Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has said that the statements made against the CAG and PAC show that the truth has emerged and has promised that 'corrections' will take place.
"I don't think we really need to respond to this, the facts are before the public...Truth always has a tendency to emerge on the surface," Sibal told Times Now.
"I am saddened by the fact that a solemn process, a constitution process, was being adulterated in this manner...Institutions must survive and we will ensure the corrections take place," he said.
The revelations made are for the country to see and not to be comment on, the minister said.
Even PMO minister V Narayanasamy said that he was saddened by allegations that PAC chief Murli Manohar Joshi had influenced the CAG report.
"It is sad that a person who was supposed to be neutral has not been," he said.
1. 22 pm: Sonia Gandhi says BJP stands exposed
Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi said that the statement of former CAG official RP Singh showed that the BJP stood exposed in terms of the role it had played in calculating loss figures on the 2G report.
Speaking to reporters, Sonia said, "The BJP is exposed." When asked whether the row had backfired on the Opposition party, the UPA chairperson said, "It looks like (it has)."
Gandhi also held a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and convened a Congress core committee meeting, in the light of the fresh allegations leveled by RP Singh, who distanced himself from the massive loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore and said that the report on the scam had been heavily influenced by BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has already said that the matter will be discussed in Parliament, while Manish Tewari and Digvijaya Singh called upon Joshi to explain himself. This is, of course assuming that Parliament will actually function.
Meanwhile responding to Joshi's charges that his revelations were because he had an axe to grind, Singh said that these were baseless.
Other MP's appeared bemused on Twitter:
Oh wow... the Telecom scam is now reduced to a My Auditor V/S Your Auditor debate ! Amazingggggg!!!
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar (@rajeev_mp) नवम्बर 23, 2012
12:35 pm: Murli Manohar Joshi says former CAG official may have an axe to grind
Senior BJP leader and Chairman of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee Murli Manohar Joshi has rubbished all the allegations against him and said that it was possible the former CAG official RP Singh had an axe to grind due to which he had made the claims.
"When summoned before us, he had told the PAC how the audit was carried out. He never said that the report was written under pressure. He could have spoken freely but he chose not to," Joshi told reporters outside Parliament.
Singh had been called before Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the 2G scam where also he did not make any allegations of this sort, the BJP leader said.
"He was the writer of the report so how can he allege that it was written under pressure," Joshi said.
"I think this is a conspiracy to defame the CAG and PAC, which are watchdogs of the democracy in India, by the government to conceal its own corruption," he said.
12:30 pm: Singh had questioned methodology of CAG audit earlier as well
While the Opposition has alleged that the claims made by Singh are a conspiracy by the Congress, a Livemint report in 2011 points out that there were internal notes circulated in the CAG, in which Singh had said that the loss due to the spectrum sale could not be quantified.
“We are not on strong grounds in the argument made,” an internal note from Singh's office had reportedly stated.
Read the complete report here.
12:15 pm: Law Minister says inquiry needed into allegations
Law Minister Ashwani Kumar has said that an inquiry is needed into allegations that have been leveled against
"In the very least a serious inquiry is needed into the figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore which caused huge confusion in the public mind," Kumar said.
He also said that the charge against the Parliamentary Accounts Committee Chairman was a serious one that needed to be verified.
"It is a very serious charge...The chariman of the PAC is the custodian of the conscience of Parlimanet. It has serious overtones for the functioning of Parliament," he said.
A serious charge has been made which certainly requires to be probed as the government deems fit, the minister said.
11:45 am:Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath says there should be an inquiry against allegations
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has said that he has been told by many MPs to have a discussion on the allegations levelled by the former CAG official in Parliament.
"Many members have told me that they want a discussion on this in Parliament. There are calls for an inquiry and a discussion on the matter," Nath told Times Now.
Nath said the inquiry in the matter should verify the authenticity of the allegations leveled against the CAG and the Parliamentary Accounts Committtee.
"Is that somebody somewhere has gone on a tangent to criticise the government? We must not allow the institution of the CAG to be criticised, but if someone from within makes such allegations then people and Parliament should know the truth," Nath said.
He also refuted allegations that the Congress was using the former official's statementst to target the CAG.
"The Congress has not been in the habit of inducting CAG members into the party. The BJP has brought a CAG into the Rajya Sabha.....I am not saying there should be an inquiry against the CAG but against the allegations made," Nath said.
11:15 am: BJP alleges Congress conspiracy to target the CAG
The BJP has strongly refuted the allegations levelled by the former CAG official and has alleged it is a Congress conspiracy against the CAG.
"We oppose it. A retired officer is attempting to defame the CAG and we condemn it," Ravi Shankar Prasad, party spokesperson, said.
"Why did he keep quiet for one year? After retirement he is a pawn in the hands of the Congress and the government. It is a continuing conspiracy by the Congress to target the CAG," he said.
Most Congress MPs and ministers are unified in saying that the PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi must give an explanation on the matter. They're backed by the Left front parties in this demand for now.
11:00 am: Joshi says it is an attempt to malign the PAC and CAG, Digvijay says he's vindicated
The Parliamentary Accounts Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi has hit back over reports that he was responsible for the amendment of the presumptive losses due
"The claims are baseless. PAC has been looking into the matter even before I became the PAC chief," Joshi has said.
This is just an attempt to malign the PAC and CAG, the senior BJP leader said.
Meanwhile, Congress' Digvijay Singh has said that the media reports had vindicated his stand on the CAG report on 2G spectrum.
"The CAG must come out with a categorical explanation on the issue," he said
He also questioned the leaking of CAG reports to the media before they were tabled in Parliament.
"This matter also has to be investigated. I am trying to find out how many times the media has got the CAG report before Parliament and I would request the government to form a special investigation team to look into this," he said.
10: 45 am: Congress demands explanation from PAC chief over allegations
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tiwari has said that the Parliamentary Accounts Committee Chairperson Murli Manohar Joshi should publicly reply to allegations that he had asked the presumptive loss figure to be amended to an inflated Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
"How did this leap from 2645 cr to 1.76 lakh crore happen? Who took this decision? This needs to be investigated,"Tiwari told reporters today.
"CAG, Murli Manohar Joshi must answer these questions, because they have been raised in the public space," he said.
If RK Singh has put certain germane issues into the public domain, it is not targeting but a legitimate question to the CAG, the minister said.
10:30 am: Former CAG official alleges that CAG report was "highly revised" to show large losses
In an interview to Indian Express (here), RP Singh, a former Director-General of Post and Telecommunications at the CAG, , who has in the past deposed before the Joint Parliamentary Committee that went into the CAG report, says that he had submitted an audit report in May 2010, in which he had estimated the notional loss to the exchequer at a mere Rs 2,645 crore.
“After this, my audit team was attached with CAG headquarters under Deputy CAG Rekha Gupta,” says Singh. Subsequently, he adds, he was sent a “heavily revised report” – which put the presumptive loss at substantially higher levels – between Rs 57,666 crore and Rs 1.76 lakh crore – and directed to issue it to the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Telecommunications.
“There was little I could do when I got a written instruction,” says Singh.
The core of Singh’s charge is that the CAG’s final report had not been drawn up on the basis of audit guidelines. He claims he wrote to Rekha Gupta as far back as in February 2010 seeking audit guidelines, and sent reminders to the CAG headquarters, but received no reply. He further adds that he had communicated his disapproval of the audit report to the CAG, Vinod Rai.
“I wrote a few letters to Rekha Gupta with a copy to the CAG explaining my views on the audit process and the calculation of loss, among other details, which I was not approving. But I never had direct interaction with CAG on this matter,” Singh told the newspaper.
Firstpost's Venky Vembu has pointed out how this isn't the first attempt by the Congress and UPA to take on the CAG report and prove that the quantum of loss due to not auctioning 2G spectrum wasn't as high as claimed. Read more here.