The CAG reports of around 20 per
cent misappropriation in the funds disbursed under the farm debt waiver scheme
launch by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in May 2008. The
report is already tabled in the Parliament and as expected is creating problems
for the ruling coalition which is expecting to sail through the next
parliamentary election by offering some more cash dole-outs.
Even the members from the
Congress party had to criticise the shoddy implementation of the scheme and our
comfortably-numb-economist prime minister had to come forward to issue yet
another ‘those responsible will not be spared’ dud.
But yet another aspiring prime
minister who is known for issuing statements fueling the price rise and whose
whole family is facing huge corruption allegations came forward and refuted
that there was any wrongdoing – the Maratha satrap and the minister of
agriculture in the Union Government, Sharad Pawar. He said:
“Government of India has taken
the decision and money has been sent to banks. Accounts and beneficiary list
has been selected by banks under the supervision of RBI and NABARD. Money has
directly been transfered to accounts. Where is the question of
misappropriation? We have to understand out of 3.7 crore accounts, CAG has
taken sample of 90,576 accounts. That means 0.25 per cent accounts have been
audited. With such a big scheme announced throughout India, coming to conclusion with
such small figure! I think I should get more information.”*
It was expected from the senior
After all, why won’t he do so
after seeing the precedent set by his party in Maharastra where his Nationalist
Congress Party is an alliance partner with the Congress party run government in
The whole country saw the mockery
of procedures in the probe of Maharashtra
irrigation scam in which his nephew and the deputy chief minister of the state
Ajit Pawar was implicated. After the reports about the Rs. 70,000 scam first
surfaced, Pawar junior stepped down under pressure, but only to be reinstated
after few months with a clean chit. A white paper prepared by the state
government says there was indeed no irregularity at all, though very pertinent
questions remain demanding an independent probe.
And Pawar senior follows the same
streak here. He has dismissed the CAG report on the farm debt waiver
questioning the methods adopted by the CAG.
The CAG says on the sampling:
Now that is a good enough size
given the fact that this a preliminary report on the performance audit. When we
see it in the historical perspective of the fund misappropriations in various
government schemes including the MNREGA and NRHM, it only indicates for a
bigger anomaly to surface say when the sample size is increased to 2 per cent
of the universe of the covered 3.45 crore farmers (that would be a sample size
of 6,90,000!) or who knows Mr. Pawar will ask for a 5 per cent sample size (with
Sure, a more comprehensive report
should and would follow and no matter what the sample size is, the country is
going to see more dirt on the scam. UPA’s history of scams says the
misappropriation level is only bound to go up.
Also, Mr. Pawar’s statement is
fundamentally flawed. Even the audited 0.25 per cent of sample size (a
comprehensive number of 90,576 beneficiaries spread over 92 districts) establishes
irregularities in the fund management of the farm debt waiver scheme and Mr.
Pawar’s denial or any justification falls flat.
But do politicians care about it?
Precedent says - NO! Contemporary
political history of India
says - NO!
* No misappropriation of funds
in farm debt waiver scheme: Pawar