Inside track: CAG silenthttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/inside-track-cag-silent/

Inside track: CAG silent

Sharma conveyed to his deputy CAGs that they should avoid putting a figure to monetary losses incurred by a government department.

Sharma conveyed to his deputy CAGs that they should avoid putting a figure to monetary losses incurred by a government department.

CAG silent

Hardly any reports from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s office have been released in the past six months,since Shashi Kant Sharma took over the job. While several draft reports are ready,they are waiting for his signature. Sharma,who was earlier defence secretary,verbally conveyed to his deputy CAGs when he took over that they should avoid putting a figure to monetary losses incurred by a government department,and should concentrate on procedural lapses. They were also instructed not to specifically name private parties or bureaucrats who might have benefited due to wrongdoings. Sharma succeeded Vinod Rai,whose scathing audits of government departments,particularly the 2G spectrum scam and the coal block allocation scam,created major ripples.

Lalit and CRICKET

It is more than two years since former IPL chief Lalit Modi left the country,but although there is a blue alert against him and his passport has been revoked,Modi continues to enjoy the good life in London. Modi,who lives in Belgravia,is often seen entertaining Indian celebrities whenever they are in London. Last week,he had a big bash at Hotel Rosewood London to celebrate his 50th birthday. One of the presents was a grey Ferrari tied up in ribbons,with a special number plate,CRI3KET. Modi also takes a keen interest in the Rajasthan elections where his old friend Vasundhara Raje is the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate.

Politically savvy

Pranab Mukherjee’s political skills come in handy even as President. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was annoyed because,a fortnight back,Mukherjee visited Darjeeling and met Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung. Mukherjee,accompanied by son Abhijit,who is keen to get GJM backing for contesting the Darjeeling parliamentary constituency,met Gurung despite Mamata’s objections. When Mukherjee visited Kolkata a few days later,the CM showed her displeasure by sending a junior minister to the airport to greet him. Mamata did not attend the function in Kolkata presided over by the President either. However,the two appear to have made up since then because Mukherjee has agreed to inaugurate the 75th anniversary celebrations of the West Bengal Assembly. But now Mukherjee has to do some mending of fences with the Congress,BJP and CPM,all of whom are threatening to boycott the event,accusing Mamata of “destroying the democratic character” of the Legislative Assembly.

Modi in focus

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THE notice board outside the famed Ambaji temple in Banaskantha in Gujarat clearly states that photography is strictly prohibited inside. The sign is in Hindi,Gujarati and English. But when Chief Minister Narendra Modi visited the temple recently,numerous photographs of him offering prayers and being welcomed by the head priest inside the sanctum sanctorum were clicked. The photographs received wide publicity and were posted on the CM’s website. There has been much criticism that a century-old tradition has been broken.

PR disaster

TEHSEEN and Shehzad Poonawalla were once Suresh Kalmadi groupies,but with Kalmadi’s downfall,they have hitched their wagon to senior leaders of the Congress in Delhi. Despite their passionate espousal of Congress causes on television,neither of the two brothers was included in the new party media cell. To make up for this,a PR and brand consultancy firm sent out an e-mail to media houses introducing Tehseen and urging them to do a profile on him. Among Tehseen’s many “assets”,the firm listed that he was a regular in the party circuit and figured frequently on page 3. Some in the Congress media cell seem to have taken objection to such blatant self-promotion. At any rate,the PR firm has now sent another message clarifying that it was not authorised by Tehseen to blow his trumpet. The glowing testimonials were the handiwork of a junior executive in his personal capacity without consulting anyone,a representative of the firm stated. A difficult story to believe.

Packing up

FORMER Union minister and M Karunanidhi’s son M K Alagiri has surrendered his official Type VIII bungalow on 1,Kamraj Road,in Delhi,where he stayed for four years. Three truckloads of his personal belongings have been sent to Chennai and some to Madurai. Alagiri is not in a mood to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In fact,he does not want to stand for electoral office,but is keen to be chief organiser for the DMK. During the winter session of Parliament,Alagiri might stay at DMK MP K V Ramalingam’s house or in a city hotel.