Hindustan Times (Delhi) : 2019-02-11

HTNATION : 13 : 13


nation hindustantimes 11 H I N DU STA N T I M E S , N EW D E L H I M O N DAY, F E B R U A RY 1 1 , 2 0 1 9 On Rafale, Cong accuses CAG of JD(S) lawmaker claims BJP leaders paid him money to switch loyalties FINAL SHAHI SNAN AT KUMBH SEA OF PILGRIMS conflict of interest The fourth official bathing day and the third and final shahi snan (royal bathing by akhadas, or monastic orders) took place on Basant Panchami No of people who made a visit: ROW Kapil Sibal says Rajiv Mehrishi should’ve recused himself from auditing jet deal Vikram Gopal Around 30 million (between Feb 9 and Feb 10) [email protected] n cial on condition of anonymity. Officials said there was nothing new in bureaucrats being given constitutional posts after retirement. They cited former defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma’s example. The UPA government appointed Sharma as CAG in May 2013. Several reports came out during his tenure including a report on the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scandal, the officials said. A CAG spokesman was unavailable for comments. An official with the audit watchdog said on the condition of anonymity that Mehrishi never handled the charge of expenditure secretary, who may have handled the Rafale file as part of routine duties. “Mehrishi was finance secretary but all secretaries in the finance ministry directly report to the finance minister. Mehrishi, while being in the finance ministry, did not handle the expenditure department. Even the financial advisor reports to the expenditure secretary,” the official added. The Congress’s objections came two days after The Hindu reported that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had conducted parallel talks with the French government over the Rafale deal. plicity and consent. This reflects your direct collaboration in the entire matter,” the memorandum added. “That being so, there is no reason or occasion for you to audit the 36 Rafale aircraft deal as you can neither be a judge in your own cause nor can sit in audit over your own actions to which you were a party.” Union minister Arun Jaitley dismissed the Congress’s charges, calling them yet another attack on the institution of CAG based on falsehood. “After ten years in government, former [Congress-led] UPA [United Progressive Alliance Government] ministers still don’t know that finance secretary is only a designation given to the senior-most secretary in the finance ministry,” Jaitley tweeted. “Defence ministry files are dealt with by Secretary (Expenditure). Secretary (Economic affairs) has no role in expenditure files of the defence ministry.” Top officials, too, contradicted the Congress’s claims saying only defence ministry officials were part of the negotiating team. “The negotiating team had seven members and they were all from the Indian Air Force, MOD [the ministry of defence] and the finance division of the MOD,” said an offi- HT Correspondent No of people who took a dip: Another ruling Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), lawmaker in Karnataka on Sunday claimed that opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders allegedly paid him money to switch loyalties. K Srinivasa Gowda, the JD (S) lawmaker, told reporters in Kolar that BJP leaders CP Yogeshwar and Ashwathnarayana paid him ₹5 crore and promised to give another ₹25 crore. “They asked me to resign from the assembly, but I refused their offer,” he said. Despite repeated attempts to reach BJP spokespersons, they were not available for comment. The fresh allegation comes in the backdrop of a clip purportedly recorded during a meeting between BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa and another JD (S) lawmaker Nagangouda Kandkur’s son, Sharangouda. In the clip, Yeddyurappa is purportedly heard asking Sharangouda to switch his allegiance and promises to pay ₹25 crore and a ministerial berth to his father if he agreed to join the party. Later, another person is heard claiming that speaker K R Ramesh Kumar has been influenced with the promise of ₹50 crore, a charge he has refuted. Yeddyurappa rubbished the clip and alleged Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy has produced it. He said he was ready to resign if it is proven that the voice in the clip was his even as Yeddyurappa admitted to having met Sharangouda on Friday. On Sunday, Yeddyurappa condemned Kumaraswamy’s “blackmail politics”. “Kumaraswamy is doing third-grade politics. Blackmail, conspiracies have begun. On the instructions of CM, Sharangouda was sent to guest house where I was staying where he recorded the conversation. Only a part of which [the conversation] was released,” he told journalists at Hubballi ahead of PM Narendra Modi’s visit on Sunday. Yeddyurappa attacked Kumaraswamy for admitting to having asked Sharangouda to go for the meeting. “I said yesterday that speaker Ramesh Kumar is a very upright person. And it is condemnable that they have claimed that I have said I will give him Rs 50 crore,” he said. BENGALURU: [email protected] n Around 20 million on February 10 25,000 45 The Congress on Sunday accused the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi of “conflict of interest” in auditing the Rafale jet deal. It said Mehrishi was the finance secretary from October 2014 to August 2015 when the decision to buy 36 Rafale jets was announced and a previous possible deal for 126 aircraft was scrapped. The Congress said Mehrishi allegedly had a role in the negotiations for the deal. Congress leader Kapil Sibal said Mehrishi should have recused himself from auditing the deal and if the CAG report on it is tabled in Parliament, it would amount to a scam. “How can the CAG probe decisions he took as finance secretary? First, he will protect himself and then the government. There is no bigger conflict of interest,” Sibal said at press conference here. Sibal said governments come and go and the Congress “had its eyes on officials who are overenthusiastic and trying to show the prime minister how loyal they are despite a conflict of interest”. His press conference came a NEWDELHI: Police force deployed: Special trains for pilgrims: Special buses for pilgrims: 4,000 Prominent citizens/politicians who visited: Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, Bhajan singer Anoop Jalota, UP minister of state with independent charge for transport and protocol Swatantra Dev Singh Kapil Sibal n day before the national auditor is likely to submit to President Ram Nath Kovind a much-awaited report on its audit of military procurements over the last few years, including the ₹59,000-crore Rafale deal. In a memorandum submitted to Mehrishi on Sunday, the Congress said the cardinal principle of law is that “no one can be a judge in his own cause.” “Representatives of the finance ministry, i.e. member of the Cost Accounts Service and financial advisers were part of the Indian negotiation team. Hence, you [Mehrishi] were also involved in the negotiations of Rafale deal,” the memorandum said. “In fact, the irregularities, bungling, and corruption were happening at the highest level with your direct or indirect com- A group of sadhus of Juna Akhada during the Shahi Snan at Kumbh on Sunday. n SHEERAZ RIZVI/HINDUSTAN TIMES PM Modi to interact with BJP workers at 9L polling stations the elections are formally announced and everyone gets busy” he said. The election commission is expected to announce the schedule of the Lok Sabha election in the first week of March. “He will outline the importance of winning the coming election and what every BJP worker is expected to do,” the second leader said. At the BJP’S national council meeting in New Delhi last month, Modi cautioned the party against any complacency, this leader said. Modi is the BJP’S star campaigner and remains a hugely popular figure. “All of you need to work hard at the booth level,” he told BJP leaders at that meeting. The campaign to put up flags at 50 million houses is an exercise to maximise BJP’S visibility and show its dominance. The BJP estimates t hat around 220 million people have benefited from the NDA’S welfare schemes and wants to make sure these people vote for it in the coming election. Dr Sanjeev Tiwari, associate professor of political science with Delhi University, said such an exercise can be expected from the BJP which has a “well oiled” organisation machinery. “There is no other cadrebased party which has such domination over such a large geographical area. Also, it has started preparing for elections when its rivals even don’t know how many seats they will contest. These two give an edge to Narendra Modi in the national election.” Kumar Utttam MODI TO ADDRESS MP RALLIES [email protected] n Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with Bharatiya Janata Party workers at 9 lakh polling stations on February 28, as part of the party’s preparation for the summer’s Lok Sabha election, two BJP leaders familiar with the programme said. The party will also launch a “Mera Parivar, Bhajpa Parivar” (my family is with the BJP) campaign between February 12 and March 2, during which BJP workers will get 50 million houses to sport the party flag. Modi’s interaction will be held through the Namo App — the official mobile application of the Prime Minister that draws its name from the first two letters of his first and last name. The BJP accelerated its poll preparation after a poor showing in assembly elections in December (it lost three Hindi heartland states). Soon after, HT reported, the Prime Minister embarked on an intense 90-day, 100-rallies campaign. On Saturday and Sunday alone, he addressed six programmes in six states. The BJP has invited questions from party workers for the PM’S February 28 interaction, before February 15. Modi will answer a few of them during the interaction. A team at BJP HQ will monitor the preparedness for the event, which requires boothlevel workers, the first line in the party’s outreach efforts, to download the Namo app and make a donation between ₹5 and ₹ 1,000. NEW DELHI: HT Correspondent JA I T L EY ’ S FAC E B O O K P O S T [email protected] n ‘Protect India from institution wreckers’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi will blow the bugle of Lok Sabha polls in Madhya Pradesh on February 15 and 16, said state BJP president Rakesh Singh on Sunday. Talking to media persons Rakesh Singh said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a public meeting in Hoshangabad on February 15 and in Dhar on February 16.” He said the BJP was confident of winning all the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh. BHOPAL: “There are two critical features of these new emerging breed of institution protectors. They criticise the government the maximum and simultaneously argue that the free speech is in danger,’’ Jaitley said. He accused the Congress of organising loot on the banks between 2008-2014 and added it is now alleging that industrial loans had been waived. “Not a single rupee was waived. On the contrary, the defaulters have been thrown out of management and Congress’s falsehood was exposed,” he said. Jaitley said the Opposition’s attack on the Electronic Voting Machines is not merely to allay defeat, it is an attack on the Election Commission. He said it is the Opposition which questioned first the existence of the surgical strike and then played it down as a routine action which has also taken place in the past. Jaitley said each one of the “fake campaigns” failed to cut much ice. “Falsehood doesn’t have longevity. The ‘compulsive contrarians’ continued to jump from one falsehood to another,” he said. HT Correspondent RAHUL ATTACKS GOVT OVER JOBS [email protected] n Union minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday questioned the Congress’s allegations about irregularities in purchase of the Rafale aircraft and the Centre’s interference with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’S functioning. He said over the last two months there have been several “fake campaigns”. Jaitley added that it was about time that India and its institutions are protected from these “institution wreckers”. In a Facebook titled Institutions Under Attack – The Latest Fabrication, Jaitley, who returned from the US after medical treatment on Saturday, cited Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s two speeches on Rafale and added they were based “on a personal hatred” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi “emanating from envy”. The context of the speeches points more to “collegelevel lumpenisation in content”, he said. “A failed student always hates the class topper,” he wrote. He said the Rafale deal not only strengthens the Indian Air NEW DELHI: after investing lakhs, to make his point. The driver had made the remarks when he was asked about NITI Aayog’s reported statement that Ola/uber have created two million jobs. “Incompetence coupled with arrogance has made this government a textbook case of moral bankruptcy,” Gandhi said in a Facebook post. Gandhi has been highly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of unemployment. Press Trust of India [email protected] n Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday attacked the Centre over the issue of job creation, alleging that incompetence coupled with arrogance has made the government a “textbook case of moral bankruptcy”. Gandhi cited a media report, which quoted an Uber driver as saying that the government has not given jobs and he found one NEWDELHI: The PM regularly meets specific groups through the Namo App, but the size of the audience has never been as large as it will be on February 28, one of the two leaders cited in the first instance said. Modi has held several “Mera Booth Sabse Majboot’ (my booth is strongest) interactions with BJP workers from different states, and the maha samvad (grand interaction) on February 28 will be a finale of sorts, this person added. “He wants to speak to BJP workers at every location before Force’s combat ability but saved thousands of crores for the exchequer. “When its falsehood collapsed, its creators by producing half a document lost their full credibility. They forgot that truth always prevails,” he said. Jaitley insisted the government does not interfere in any investigative function of CBI or any other investigative agency. He said restoring the credibility of an investigative agency is strengthening the institution and not assaulting it. Jaitley said the Congress governments have in the past been liberal in asking Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governors to quit. The government legitimately flags the issues relating to liquidity and credit availability with the RBI, Jaitley said. K SRINIVASA GOWDA, THE JD (S) LAWMAKER, SAID BJP LEADERS PAID HIM ₹5 CRORE AND PROMISED TO GIVE ANOTHER ₹25 CRORE JAWAHARLAL NEHRU CENTRE FOR ADVANCED SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH (A Deemed University) Jakkur, Bangalore 560 064. NEWS, VIEWS & ANALYSIS. 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