CAG report on Rafale: The much-awaited CAG report on the Rafale deal will be presented before the Parliament today, the last day of the Budget session. The report titled 'Capital Acquisition in Indian Air Force' will be presented by Junior Finance Minister P Radhakrishnan. The CAG report will include the performance audit details and a list of acquisitions made by the Air Force. It may also give some clarity on the defense purchase parameters included in the Rafale deal.
However, it is unlikely that the CAG report will reveal the most contentious issue of pricing of the Rafale fight jets. The Congress-led opposition has time and again accused the government of buying the Rafale jets at double the prices negotiated during the previous UPA government, thus causing a loss to the exchequer.
Main contours of the CAG report may also comprise 11 acquisitions made by the IAF, including the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, reported India Today TV. The report will likely contain "comparative evaluation" on the bases of availability and market price of the fighter jet components during the deal under the Modi government as well as the UPA government.
Though a clear picture will be out only after the report gets tabled in Parliament, the Congress party has already called it a contentious report, accusing Comptroller and Auditor General Rajiv Mehrishi of being "complicit in the irregularities". Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Tuesday asked Mehrishi to recuse himself from auditing the CAG report as he was the finance secretary at the time the Modi government signed the Rafale agreement.
"CAG is going to completely save the government in its report. The whole deal materialised in the supervision of Rajiv Mehrishi who was the then finance secretary. When the negotiations started, the Ministry of Finance was part of it," said Sibal.
Sibal said since the finance ministry plays a key role in this matter, Mehrishi's role was a clear case of "conflict of interest" as he was the finance secretary from October 24, 2014, to August 30, 2015. In between, Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Paris on April 10, 2015, and signed the Rafale deal, he said.
Clearing the air around Mehrishi's role, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Congress was casting aspersions on the institution of CAG based on "falsehood". "Another attack on the institution of CAG by the 'Institution wreckers' based on falsehood. After ten years in Government former UPA ministers still don't know that Finance Secretary is only a designation given to the senior-most secretary in the finance ministry," Jaitley said. The finance ministry also clarified that Rajiv Mehrishi, who initially joined the ministry as economic affairs secretary, never dealt with expenditure proposals from the defence ministry.
Edited by Manoj Sharma