April 22, 2021
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Defence Secretary could be next CAG?

There are reportedly hectic behind the scene efforts to make current Defence Secretary S K Sharma as next Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of the country – the watch dog body which has severely rattled the UPA over unearthing dozens of high profile scams denting the image of Congress Party.

Congress Party which direly banks upon a public profile after its brand ‘honesty’ image makeover has suffered irreparable damage, is now eyeing the CAG. The whole exercise is probably aimed at turning the manipulation and bringing a pliable candidate to become next CAG.

Although there are other names floating around in the power circle, Defence Secretary S K Sharma’s name is prominent among them as it is a matter of suitability and loyalty in absolute form. Congress always demands high degree of loyalty.

It is difficult to say whether there can be a deal to make Sharma as next CAG, or Sharma himself may have offered to get the top job as the current CAG Vinod Rai is also a known figure in MoD circle as he had served in the Ministry one stint before assuming the hot seat.

Even, this may have inspired Sharma to look for the new assignment.

Technically, Sharma too has banking and other necessary background to become CAG but whether the post which is considered too hot to be handled at the moment is really suitable for Sharma only time will tell.

Insiders however said that Sharma’s elevation to CAG has many links to MoD bureaucratic structure. In MoD posting and transfer matters, Defence Minister A K Antony has hardly any voice for all practical purpose.

Thus, if Sharma goes to become CAG, then there will be a hot pursuit for the next Defence Secretary post. And, everywhere loyal people are required to push various deals to go through.

In this case, Sharma’s elevation must have been cleared by the top Congress hierarchy which is desperate to control CAG as number of scams are only adding to the woes at a time when the party hopes to field its flamboyant ‘Yuvraj’ as its Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014 elections.

Sharma has friends across the political chessboard. For example, one should know how India functions and choices for the top assignments are made. It is neither merit nor hierarchy. Sharma is an upper caste Brahmin and the leader of opposition is also a Brahmin. This link can also give a special drive to acquire the top post.

The CAG is an authority, established by the Constitution of India under Chapter V, who audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government. In addition, the CAG also executes performance and compliance audits of various functions and departments of the government.

Sharma will retire by middle of this year. In case he does not get a long standing in the government then his retirement can soon be boring. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is especially fond of retired people as his PMO is a rehabilitation center going by statistics.                

The CAG post will get vacant by March end. Therefore, February will witness strong political activities. Sharma will enjoy a five year stint holding a Constitutional position and this will help Congress in many ways.

For example, in case Congress loses elections in 2014, then Sharma will remain in his position as nobody can remove him going by the parameters.

This will help Congress politically and in either situation it is going to be a win-win game.