ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Accountability - Is It Just a Word?

The Comptroller and Auditor General's three recent reports have put the government in the dock.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has painted it all up, rouged it as a Bharatiya morality play. Its act serves to soft-pedal the real issues even as it capitalises on the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India’s reports tabled in Parliament on 17 August. The CAG’s union audit report on the allocation of coal blocks is at the centre of a political storm with the BJP playing up the role of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the arbitrary and irregular allocation of coal blocks to private sector firms between 2004 and 2009, when the prime minister more or less also held charge as union minister of coal. In the foreground is the demand for the resignation of the prime minister and this is what makes the theatrics amusing, for it is precisely one of the BJP’s own leaders, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh, who did not want a change to competitive bidding as an alternative mode of allotment of the coal blocks.

There is a lot in the CAG reports that is not merely being glossed over, but given the go-by. Take, for instance, the expected huge, unfair financial benefit to Reliance Power, the project developer for the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP), because of the intervention of the BJP chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, no less, in favour of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group company. There is also total disregard of the public interest in the public-private partnership (PPP) involving the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the GMR Group-led consortium for Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA). Clearly, one has to leave Bharatiya morality aside and get down to the other issues that concern the answerability of the government to Parliament and, in turn, the people. In all the three cases – the allocation of coal blocks, Reliance Power and IGIA – the government has, according to the CAG, selectively conferred huge benefits on private sector companies leading to the unfair exclusion of others.

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