While Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Mallikarjun Kharge has said that the parliamentary panel must call the Attorney General and the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) to question them about the public auditor’s
supposed report on the Rafale deal, several members of the panel were cold to the idea.
“That would be improper,” said Bhartruhari Mahtab, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader in the Lok Sabha and a member of the PAC, when asked about Kharge’s suggestion to summon the CAG and the AG. “Has the CAG given any report on the Rafale deal?” he asked, while maintaining that only when a CAG report is placed in Parliament can PAC take it up
and that too after the full committee decides to do so. “And that hasn’t been decided yet”, he added.
“Secondly, what is mentioned in the SC judgment, as it has been reported, is factually not correct. The CAG has not submitted a report, in full or in part, to Parliament, nor has PAC dealt with it,” he added.
On the formation of a JPC, Mahtab said, “It has to be a collective decision of both the treasury and Opposition benches. The Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and the Parliamentary Affairs Minister have all agreed to a discussion in the House. It depends on the Opposition now”.
Gajanan Chandrakant Kirtikar, the Shiv Sena’s representative in the PAC, was not enthused about Kharge’s suggestion either. “We can deliberate on an issue only when there is a CAG report on it,” Kirtikar said, adding that “the Rafale issue is not on the PAC agenda”. As for the demand of a JPC, Kirtikar said, “It is only our party chief Uddhav Thackeray who can take a call on the matter. I have nothing to say on it.”
Gopal Shetty, BJP MP from Mumbai-North constituency and a member of the PAC, when asked if he favoured Kharge’s move to call for the CAG and the A-G, said, “Why just the PAC, which has only 22 members? It is a national issue. Let the entire Parliament discuss it. If the sense of the House is that the matter should be referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee, then be it. Didn’t the same happen in the case of the Bofors scam?” he asked.
PAC member Prem Singh Chandumajra of the Akali Dal said, “There is no CAG report on Rafale before the committee. The highest court of the land has given its verdict on the Rafale deal and it would be unfair to keep harping on it when there are pressing issues related to farmers which need to be addressed.”
Given the sensitivity of the matter within his party, former Uttarakhand CM and BJP member from Hardwar, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, also a member of the PAC, only said, “I can not recall it coming up before the PAC.”
Another BJP MP and PAC member, Riti Pathak (Sidhi), said, “Meri jaankari mein nahin hai (This is not to my knowledge),” she said when asked if there was any CAG report on the Rafale deal.