The turf war between the two parliamentary panels probing the 2G spectrum allocation scam burst out in the open on Monday with the Congress asking BJP to rein in its leader Murli Manohar Joshi. The row between the two panels probing 2G spectrum – the Joint Parliamentary Committee headed by Congress’ PC Chacko and the Public Accounts Committee led by Joshi – played out in the second panel’s meeting and even outside.
Congress and DMK members of PAC raised the matter at the meeting of the committee on a day it examined industrialist Ratan Tata and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia. Congress members, who have also written a letter to Joshi, echoed Chacko’s views that when the JPC was seized of the matter, why was PAC still examining 2G spectrum allocation.
Joshi reiterated his stand that the PAC has been functioning all along and cautioned members against giving the impression that a single party did not want the committee to continue with examining the 2G spectrum issue. BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said that since the Speaker had been apprised of the issue, it should be left to her to take a decision. BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab said the formation of a JPC did not disqualify PAC from continuing with the probe.
Both Joshi and Chacko had met Speaker Meira Kumar last week and placed their views before her. However, with PAC going ahead with its probe, Congress attacked BJP saying it should rethink if a JPC was necessary.
“If BJP believes in a JPC probe then it should rein in PAC chairman (Joshi),” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said. The party said that BJP’s backing of Joshi showed that it had demanded a JPC to score political brownie points. “When BJP articulated its demand for a JPC, it premised it on the condition that PAC could not look into policy issues. The manner in which PAC has been probing the issue (2G spectrum allocation scam) and the way they have widened the scope of their work, BJP should rethink if JPC was necessary or it was just to politicise the issue and score political brownie points,” Tewari said.
Despite the criticism, Congress seems aware that nothing concrete would come out of its complaints on the “widened scope of PAC work”. A Congress leader said “PAC is a permanent committee of Parliament while JPC can be termed as an ‘episodic’ issue-based one. We cannot expect the Speaker to direct that PAC’s mandate be curtailed. There will be two reports on the issue.”
Congress fears that if Joshi were to finalise his report, BJP would use it to take a high moral ground and attack the government during the monsoon session of Parliament. “In the JPC meeting, the Chairman proposed that between May and July the panel could meet thrice a week. But BJP objected to it, with senior members saying they could at best come for one day and that too for two hours. This is indicative that BJP would try to delay the JPC report as much as possible so that the PAC report comes before that,” said a senior Congress leader. Economic Times