Bouquets for CAG in Delhi, brickbats in Kerala

It was a day of contradicting opinions that one saw on the manner in which the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on Tuesday was described in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing an event marking the celebration of first Audit Diwas in Delhi was all praise of the constitutional body, while Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a veiled reference attacked CAG.

In Kerala, CAG has become a persona non grata ever since economist turned former State Finance Minister Thomas Issac took on the Constitutional body head on, early this year, when he was holding office and after slamming the CAG, the Pinarayi Vijayan government passed a resolution against the CAG report (which termed the off-budget borrowings through KIIFB as unconstitutional), with the Congress led Opposition opposing it.

The difference of opinion and war of words between the Vijayan government and the CAG started ever since the latter found fault in Issac’s dream project AKIIFB, (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board).

KIIFB was established as the principal funding arm of the government in 1999. Its objective is to channelize funds for critical and large public infrastructure projects in Kerala.

And on Tuesday, Vijayan while taking part in an official function at the official residence of the Governor, without taking the name of KIIFB, vented his anger towards it.

“A section with a sadist mentality is trying to sabotage the forward progress of Kerala. What we have begun will go forward and none can ever try to play spoilsport on it. Some are adamant that Kerala should under no circumstances go forward and they will be very happy, if Kerala goes back,” said Vijayan and everyone who heard it immediately knew it was the CAG that Vijayan was targeting.

Kerala Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal also minced no words on Tuesday when he said that a responsible person like the Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan, the other day based on hearsay about a special audit report of the CAG, attacked the state government.

“Apparently no such report has ever came and when it comes it will be taken up the way such reports are taken up,” said Balagopal.