The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt cloaks arms report

New Delhi, Aug. 6: The government today gave the Opposition another stick to beat it with by refusing to place an arms purchase report before the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

The Central Vigilance Committee (CVC) report deals with irregularities in arms purchases during the Kargil war. The defence ministry said it will not put the report before the accounts committee because it would be a breach of national security.

Grabbing the opportunity to train its guns on defence minister George Fernandes again, the Opposition said it will raise the issue in a big way in both Houses tomorrow.

“We will consult other Opposition parties and take a decision tomorrow morning on how to take up the issue in Parliament. The CVC report vindicates once again our position on George boycott,” Congress spokesperson S. Jaipal Reddy said.

Joining the Congress’ tirade, senior CPM MP Somnath Chatterjee said: “It is a very unfortunate day for Parliament. The government has tried to cover up the most corrupt and clandestine defence deal. We will seek an explanation from the Prime Minister.”

BJP spokesperson V.K. Malhotra, however, alleged that the Opposition was using the vigilance report to justify its continued boycott of Fernandes.

In his report tabled in both Houses today, Buta Singh, the Public Accounts Committee chairperson, said the committee was unable to provide the findings of the CVC report on Operation Vijay before Parliament because of the defence ministry’s stand.

The committee also expressed its disapproval of the government’s action in withholding such vital information from a parliamentary body.

The accounts committee report said the defence ministry was choosing to withhold the report from public scrutiny even though the CAG findings on the Kargil arms purchases were out in the public domain.

It said Fernandes’ undue interference in the functioning of the accounts committee should be brought to the attention of the Privileges Committee and the Lok Sabha Speaker.

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