New Delhi: At a time when the PMO and the Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit are on Opposition’s line of fire over the CAG report on Commonwealth Games, government on Monday hit back at the Opposition and put up a strong defence saying that there has been no indictment of the PMO or Dikshit.
Union Ministers Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Ambika Soni addressing a joint press conference contended that there are only references to them and that does not mean indictment.
“Due Constitutional processes must be followed before blaming anyone,” they said.
"I do not think that there is an indictment of the PMO in the CAG report. There is only a reference...only a statement of facts," HRD minister Kapil Sibal said.
Wondering how the Opposition could straightaway make demands on the basis of the report, he said, "The simple fact is the CAG report goes to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, which recommends action and then Parliament comes into picture and action is taken."
Asked why action was taken against Telecom Minister A Raja even before the CAG report in the 2G spectrum allocation scam was tabled in Parliament, he said, "If in one case, the process was not followed, it does not become a Constitutional precedent."
Sibal insisted that the constitutional process that follows the tabling of the CAG report must be allowed to play out.
"The report has to go to PAC. There are issues that will have to be explained by concerned departments. The CAG has pointed out certain things. Whether they are true or not have to be decided by PAC. Then the same will be discussed in Parliament," Sibal said.
Echoing Sibal, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said, "There may be reference to different people but reference does not mean indictment. There is no indictment of any high office much less of the PMO."
The Ministers also appealed to the media to exercise self regulation, regretting that it was reporting indictment of the PMO and Dikshit when there was none.
Taking a thread from the senior Union Ministers’ statements, Congress party went on to attack the CAG over its report on alleged irregularities in Commonwealth Games projects dubbing its functioning as and even questioned its jurisdiction.
Launching a scathing attack on the functioning of CAG, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari termed the CAG report as "pips, leaks and squeaks".
"There is no whisper of an insinuation on the issue of probity of the chief minister. If there is any alleged financial loss, then the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) needs to look into that," he said.
Questioning the role of CAG, he said "does CAG have the remit to comment on an appointment process as also the policy choices which a government make or may not make?"
Tewari said "even when CAG chose to comment on the appointment process in the context of the Commonwealth Games, it errs."
An aggressive Opposition today stalled both the houses of the Parliament. They accused Sports Minister Ajay Maken of misleading Parliament on appointment of Suresh Kalmadi as CWG Organising Committee chief. They pressed hard for Dikshit`s ouster on the ground that she and her government had been thoroughly indicted by the CAG over several irregularities in the Games projects.
In the midst of a stand-off, the government on Monday agreed for a discussion on Tuesday on the statement by Sports Minister Ajay Maken on August 05. “Suresh Kalmadi was appointed as CWG Organising Committee chief by NDA government and the UPA dispensation could not do anything about it later as it was bound by Host City Agreement signed with the Commonwealth Games Federation,” Maken had said. The Opposition has accused Maken of misleading Parliament on appointment.
An unfazed Maken today stuck to his statement and said he was ready to give any clarification in Parliament.
On her part, Dikshit was dismissive about the Opposition demands for her resignation, saying "let them demand".
The discussion in the Lok Sabha will be initiated by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and followed by Kirti Azad, sources said.
In the Rajya Sabha, the discussion will be started by Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and followed by Prakash Javadekar.
During the debate on Tuesday, Opposition is expected to attack Maken along with the PMO and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
BJP sharpened its attack against Maken and said the CAG report makes it clear that Manmohan Singh`s PMO was responsible for Kalmadi`s appointment.
Senior party leader Yashwant Sinha said he had moved a motion to suspend the Question Hour in Lok Sabha to discuss the suo motu statement made by Maken on August 2 amid the din in Lok Sabha.
"My second notice was a breach of privilege by Maken in the sense that he had misled the House by concealing a great deal of information," the former union minister said.
His party spokesmen Tarun Vijay and Shahnawaz Hussain demanded that an FIR be registered against Dikshit in the wake of "irregularities" pointed out by the CAG.
With Agency inputs