PM, Sheila Dikshit caught in the eye of another storm
By Annie Banerji
With greying hair, humbly garbed in a sari and a smile that adorns her grandmother-like appearance, 73-year-old Sheila Dikshit finds herself in the spotlight over the Comptroller & Auditor General’s (CAG) report, right after combating the Shunglu Committee report.
The CAG had hauled up the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for the appointment of Suresh Kalmadi, now in jail, as chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee in 2004 despite “serious objections” from within the government.
The auditor also held the chief minister of New Delhi culpable for her “active involvement” in causing a loss of almost $6.9 million in wasteful expenditure due to “irregularities”, “favouritism” and “bias” in sanction of contracts for projects in the capital’s beautification process last year.
The report also slammed the government on select projects that led to a loss of $111 million.
“We demand that Sheila Dikshit should resign, and if she does not, she should be sacked,” said Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad.
“Such huge allocations would not have been possible without the consent of the cabinet committee, cabinet sub-committee, group of ministers (GoMs), expenditure committee, finance committee and the PMO. Their role should be probed,” he added.
Pitchforked on to the centre stage with high-profile graft cases and now his alleged role in the 2G spectrum allocation scandal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may draw flak again with the recently revised Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report. The adoption of the report, which criticises the PMO and former finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram for disregarding the national exchequer’s interests, ended unsuccessfully after facing a furore from the Congress and its allies in April.
“From the documents that are available in the 2G spectrum case, the Prime Minister’s role from 2007 to 2012 can be ascertained,” Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said on Sunday.
The Congress has not only refuted the Opposition and Left parties’ demands for Dikshit’s resignation, but has also derided the BJP-chaired PAC report on the PMO’s alleged role in the 2G spectrum allocation scandal as “political, partisan and motivated”.
Surprisingly, Congress members including Dikshit have been placing utmost emphasis on the same PAC to study the CAG report to find any doubtful pecuniary actions made by the chief minister’s government in the Commonwealth Games bungle.
Dikshit, who avoided answering media questions and maintained her innocence, told reporters on Sunday that if the public accounts committee finds anyone guilty, action will be taken against them.
Will these reports help the media shy prime minister break out of his shell and address an irked public?