Congress sniffs scam in ministry of electronics and information technology
The Congress on Saturday said the latest report by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India points to a scam in the ministry of electronics and information technology, suspecting that the removal of Ravi Shankar Prasad in the recent cabinet reshuffle could be linked to fear of a controversy erupting in the upcoming Parliament session.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said the modus operandi of loot was awarding contract to private parties without any tendering process and even formal agreements. He expressed shock as the private entity was not only operating from government premises but also using the Ashoka emblem to create an impression that it was a government company. He released file notings, acquired through an RTI query, to expose the brazenness of illegal functioning in the government.
The Congress also asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi whether the removal of the minister was enough of a punishment for loot of public exchequer and sought the complete list of private companies, which were operating from ministries and using the official Ashoka emblem. It also demanded an impartial inquiry to find the full scope of the scandal going on in the telecom ministry.
Explaining the process, Khera said: “The department of telecommunications (DoT) was awarding projects to private parties indirectly through CSC-SPV and its wholly owned subsidiary CSC Wi-Fi Choupal Services India Private Limited. The USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund) has massive funds collected through contributions from the operators. The government uses this for the last mile network connectivity (LMNC) in rural areas. Projects are given to CSC-SPV, which in turn, would pass these projects to CSC Choupal. The CSC Choupal would then assign these projects to private parties branded as common services centres through a maze of private entities. As per the DoT website, as of January 2021 the USOF had collected Rs 1,12,650 crore, out of which Rs 57,433 crore had been disbursed.”
While the CAG report explained a case in Bihar where advance was released for work without a formal agreement and tendering process, Khera said the answer to an RTI query revealed that the CSC e-Gov and CSC WiFi Choupal were private companies.
Khera asked: “Following the CAG report, is the removal of a minister from the Union cabinet enough? What is the action you will take to punish those guilty of alleged siphoning off of funds to the tune of thousands of crores? What is the connection between the BJP and CSC-SPV and its wholly owned subsidiary CSC Wi-Fi Choupal Services India Private Limited? How much has the company or any of its maze of companies, which have been benefited by the ministry of electronics and information technology, donated to the kitty of the BJP? How many such companies are using the Ashoka emblem and government premises by feigning as government entities?”