The Congress and its allies on Tuesday thwarted the attempt of Public Accounts Committee, or PAC, Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi to table the draft report on the 2G scam before the reconstituted panel but not without exposing the changing political equations at the Centre.
In what portends ominous signals for the government’s ability to push legislations that need support of non-NDA parties, the BSP changed lanes to back Joshi. What must be equally discomforting for the government was the reluctance of the DMK to support the UPA’s demand for dumping the report. Both the BSP and the DMK had aggressively backed the Congress when it prevented the previous panel from adopting the report.
The stand taken by an ally and a party that supports the government from outside points to the difficulties for the UPA in the days to come. “We cannot take support of other parties for granted. It is now a sharply divided Parliament and partisan wranglings have spilled over to even parliamentary panels,” admitted a Congress leader who did not wish to be quoted.
Going by the views expressed by the members at the meeting, the committee was divided equally on the question of the draft report. Fiercely resisting the report, prepared after 16 months of probe and calling around half-a-dozen witnesses, the Congress members dubbed it as “non-existent”.
After Joshi finished reading out the note of Speaker Meira Kumar, who had returned the draft report saying it was not adopted by a majority, Congress’ Jayanthi Natarajan said the tabling of the report had no “legal sanctity”. The chairman disallowed her submission but Congress members – Natarajan, K Sudhakaran, Sanjay Nirupam, Girija Vyas and KS Rao – argued against taking up the 2G report saying the Joint Parliamentary Committee, or JPC, was already examining the issue.
Another Congress member said there were witnesses who had to be examined in the previous PAC. “We had asked for some witnesses. But our list was ignored. So for us, the proceedings were incomplete and, therefore, the report was incomplete. It was never accepted by the previous PAC. So, it is not a report. How can it be taken up again?” On this, the Opposition argued that the “unfinished” work can be completed.
After hearing the arguments for 90 minutes, Joshi said he would consult constitutional experts about the report and get back. “The committee adopted five reports of the earlier panel. Then the Speaker’s letter was read out and various points of view were expressed about rules, procedures and guidelines. I told the members that their views will be considered and constitutional experts will be consulted,” Joshi said after the meeting.
Given the changing affiliations, the support for the Congress for closing the 2G chapter appears to be waning in the panel. BSP’s Satish Chandra left it to the chairman to take a call on the report’s fate. DMK’s Adhi Sankar said the PAC should call more witnesses in connection with the 2G scam. Samajwadi Party member Reoti Raman Singh, who reached late for the meeting, did not speak on the subject. Economic Times