BJP, SP target govt for bid to ‘weaken’ CAG

Alleging an attempt to dilute the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the Opposition as well as supporting parties today launched an offensive against the government for suggesting that it was actively considering a proposal to convert the watchdog organisation into a multi-member body.

The sharp criticism came a day after Minister of State in the PMO V Narayansamy's interview to PTI in which he referred to such a proposal regarding the CAG, which has crossed paths with the government on a number of issues including 2G, Commonwealth Games and coal block allocations.

Speaking to The Indian Express today, Narayansamy maintained that no specific question was asked about the proposal to convert CAG into a multi-member body. "I was asked about the recommendations made by the Shunglu panel, which are many, to which I said they were under active consideration by the government," he said.

The controversy, however, was enough to prompt the Opposition to cry foul, saying it was a "disturbing attempt" to reduce the authority of the constitutional body.

"BJP takes serious objection to this disturbing attempt by the government... We seriously apprehend that this remark of the minister is not an off-the-cuff remark," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said. "We would like to warn this government that any attempt to reduce the authority of CAG and compromise the constitutional integrity of the state institutions will be seriously opposed, both inside and outside Parliament," he said.

In Chennai, former BJP president Venkaiah Naidu equated the move with the "supersession of judges during Emergency". "Whenever the Congress is in trouble or faces criticism they try to weaken the institutions even if they are constitutional bodies," he said.

The Samajwadi Party and the Left parties too joined the criticism of the government, questioning the timing of such talk at a time when the CAG has brought out damaging reports on 2G and coal block allocations. "This is anti-constitutional and I condemn such a proposal. People in responsible positions in government should avoid making comments against constitutional bodies...We will not support such a proposal under any condition," said SP general secretary Mohan Singh.

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