Ex-CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) Vinod Rai’s much talked about book, Not Just an Accountant : The Diary of the Nation’s Conscience Keeper, has released. The book is being seen as a major embarrassment for the Congress, as it says Manmohan Singh knew everything about the irregularities in the 2G and coal scams. And the PM kept silent, simply to save his post. A silence that caused massive losses to the state exchequer. That apart, Rai also alleges that some Congress leaders had sought to apply pressure on him to keep the PM’s name out of audit reports.
So far, the former PM had denied knowledge of the decisions made by his ministers.
In an interview to Times Now, Rai said, and we quote,
“Integrity is not just financial; it is intellectual integrity; it is professional integrity. You have an oath of allegiance to the constitution and that is important,”
“You cannot sacrifice everything at the altar of trying to ensure the coalition remains in power. That was his worry.”
I do agree with Vinod Rai on the integrity thing. Actually, contrary to the usually held belief, integrity is not just financial. It’s intellectual and professional integrity as well. If a person has the latter two, then he/she automatically has the financial one. But, I want to go even further than that. Integrity also means ethical and moral integrity. A person devoid of ethical and moral integrity,somehow lacks every other integrity. A situation quite effectively summed up by Late Khushwant Singh — “What is morally wrong, can’t be politically right”. And hence, if the former PM ignored the irregularities taking place under his nose, then why spare him. But conscience keepers must contemplate over the moral and ethical integrity as well.
Can Manmohan Singh be punished legally?
In the said interview, and ever since he retired from the CAG post, Vinod Rai is trying to corner Manmohan Singh on the question of integrity. But can Manmohan Singh be tried and punished legally? I think he can’t. Words like integrity, Constitution, morality are raised in India only when it’s hard to punish someone legally. Take for instance communal divide enticing statements. Those who condemn them, know that it will be hard to prove the guilt legally; that’s why they use words like moral, ethical etc. But the clever thing in such cases, is that one can’t say for sure what the real motive of such big words is. Sometimes they are used rightly, sometimes to present oneself on a higher pedestal, so that no one suspects the motives.
In the Times Now interview, when asked if he believed he rocked the UPA government, Rai said:
“Yes, but that is okay. I am asking you a direct question – if the figure of Rs. 176,000 crore had not been there how many of you would have taken note of the report?
Does Mr. Vinod Rai want to say, things must be made bigger , so that they are noticed?
At one point in the interview, Vinod Rai claims that Manmohan Singh once told him that the CAG’s method of computation of the multi-billion dollar losses was wrong. To this he replied : “these are the econometric methods that you have taught us”.
Again a misinformation. Econometric or Economics using mathematical, statistical methods and other computational methods; can never be the same in all audits. Everything depends on how you see things. In addition, there are contrary views on 2G and Coal Allocation losses as well, including the recent SC judgement which sees Coal allocations since 1993 to 2008 illegal. A time period which saw both Congress and BJP Governments at Centre.
Lets hope that Vinod Rai’s book is Interesting
Overall , it appears that Vinod Rai is critical of the coalition politics under Manmohan Singh and has a opinion that the former PM was more interested in remaining in power. In addition, Rai also sees Manmohan Singh as a person of high personal integrity but one often unable to assert his authority. A perception which in itself is contradictory. As you can’t punish a person for his inability to exert authority? Either Mr. Rai call Mr. Singh a person who lacked personal integrity as well, or he stop dilly dallying on the honesty of the Ex PM. As a person who has personal integrity, will never allow something wrong take place under his nose. Unless the Minister and officers incharge of the matter, convince him that all is well. That apart, the PM has always the logical excuse that since he didn’t believe in micromanaging his ministers, hence he took for truth, what his minister conveyed to him.
It will be interesting to know, what other issues and what extended reasonings and proofs Vinod Rai’s book presents to the Nation. Although I do feel that Vinod Rai’s book should have come before the latest SC Coal allocation irregularity judgement, as that way it could have gained from the sensationalism (if any); still it will be interesting to know what revelations the book has made.