PAC may not summon AG, CAG as majority of members against Kharge’s proposal

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New Delhi, Dec 16: The PAC might not summon attorney general and the CAG over the public auditor’s report on Rafale deal, as a majority of the members, including those from opposition parties, are not in favour of the proposal by panel chairman Mallikarjun Kharge. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had on Friday claimed the Supreme Court in its verdict cited a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the deal that was submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), but he asserted that no such report was given to the House panel headed by Kharge.
Kharge on Saturday had said he will request all members of the panel to summon the attorney general and the CAG to ask them as to when the public auditor’s report was tabled in Parliament.
Responding to his remarks, senior BJD MP Bhartuhari Mahtab said PAC chairman can call the AG and the CAG in his personal capacity but not before the entire panel as the Rafale deal was not part of its agenda for 2018-19. The CAG report on the deal has not been placed before the panel, he said.
Mahtab, who is longest serving member of the panel, said the remarks of the two officials cannot be recorded if they are called in a personal capacity.
Echoing similar sentiments, TDP MP CM Ramesh said if the members wish so, the panel may call AG and the CAG but only after the report was tabled in Parliament.
The BJP-led NDA MPs in the panel are strongly opposed to the idea, with the ruling party members saying it was like “questioning” the Supreme Court.
“The apex court has categorically given a clean chit to the government on the Rafale deal, and it is unfortunate that Congress and a seasoned politician like Mr Kharge are politicising this sensitive issue of national security,” BJP MP Anurag Thakur said. Another BJP MP Gopal Shetty sought to know how the chairman can call the two top government officials on the topic which was not in the committee’s agenda and when the CAG report had not been placed before the panel.
Ally SAD MP Prem Singh Chandumajra said it would be unfair for the panel to start questioning the Supreme Court’s order.
In the 22-member panel, the BJP has a majority with 12 MPs and there is one member each of its allies, Shiv Sena and SAD. The Congress has three members in the panel, including Kharge. There are two TMC MPs and one member each of the TDP, the BJD and the AIADMK.