CAG report useless, timing suspect: P. Chidambaram

New Delhi: Dismissing the CAG report on the Rafale jet deal as worthless, Congress leader P. Chidambaram said here on Thursday it was presented deliberately on the last day of the budget session of Parliament to escape the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) scrutiny.

“The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has meekly submitted to the unprecedented demand of the government and presented a report that contains no useful information, analysis or conclusions,” Chidambaram said a day after the report was tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

While the Narendra Modi government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have hailed the report, Chidambaram called it useless and reiterated Congress’ demand for a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). “The report, besides being silent on crucial issues, is yet to be examined by the PAC,” he said.

“That is why it was submitted on the last day of the budget session. The Lok Sabha has been adjourned sine die and the report will not be examined by the PAC before the Lok Sabha polls. The entire exercise was aimed at hiding things. The report is not even worth the paper it is printed on,” said the former Union Minister.

The CAG report is significant not for what it has said, but for what it has not, he added.

Criticising the report for not divulging the pricing details, Chidambaram said it neither threw light on the justification to reduce the number of aircraft from 126 to 36 nor to the monetary gain to Dassault due to amortisation of the India-specific enhancement costs.

“What is the monetary gain to Dassault and the monetary risk to India because of the waiver of the sovereign guarantee, the bank guarantee and the escrow account? What is the hidden purpose of waiving the mandatory anti-corruption clauses: no undue influence, no agency, access to books of account and integrity pact,” he asked.

Referring to Dassault’s backlog of over 80 aircraft, Chidambaram also said the report is silent on the delivery date of the first and the last of the 36 aircraft and the probability of the French manufacturer adhering to a delivery schedule.

“The CAG is not god and its report not final. Parliament is supreme. That is why we are asking for a JPC, which can call for and examine all the documents pertaining to the deal,” Chidambaram said.

“The CAG has allowed his office to become a joke, but an honourable government, that is to come, will restore its prestige and honour,” he added.