New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) With his appointment as chairman of the joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on the 2G spectrum allocation, P.C. Chacko – an articulate and studious Congress politician from Kerala – is making a comeback to the limelight, political watchers say.
“Better late than never. He is a well-informed and communicative politician. He will be able to go into the intricacies of the 2G spectrum and attempt a comprehensive report along with other members,” said K. Sreekumar, a Kochi-based mediaperson who has conducted several TV programmes in which Chacko participated.
On his part, Chacko said he would function “impartially and fairly to prepare an objective report”.
“I will seek the cooperation and help of all the members belonging to various parties,” Chacko told IANS.
A fourth-term Lok Sabha member, Chacko, 64, had been the member of the JPC on securities scam during 1991-92 too.
“It is a recognition of Chacko (that he) was deserving for several years. His contemporaries and seniors like A.K. Antony, Vayalar Ravi (union ministers) and Oommen Chandy (former chief minister of Kerala) are in high positions. We were wondering why Chacko is not given an important role,” said M.M. Basheer, a Congress worker from Kanjrappally, Chacko’s native village.
Chacko’s selection Friday came after days of speculation whether he or some other senior members like Kishore Chandra Deo or Jaiprakash Aggarwal would become the chief of the JPC, constituted after a prolonged agitation by the opposition.
“It reflects the confidence Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chief Sonia Gandhi have in Chacko. It shows he has become acceptable to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other opposition parties too,” Delhi-based journalist George Kallivayalil said.
Chacko was fielded to defend the UPA government on several occasions, the latest being as the opening speaker in the discussion on the motion of thanks to the president’s address in parliament last week.
Last year, the BJP had boycotted the Lok Sabha proceedings on a few occasions when Chacko officiated as chairperson of the house. They alleged that Chacko was biased against the party MPs.
However, the announcement of the JPC had been welcomed by the BJP.
“We are optimistic. We have to trust democratic systems,” BJP spokesperson and MP Prakash Javadekar told IANS.
Chacko has a record of more than four decades of public service, sailing through several steep ups and downs.
He had been the chairman of the privileges committee of the Lok Sabha and member of several other committees.
A promising student leader, he graduated in geology – a subject rarely opted by budding politicians – from the prestigious University College in Thiruvananthapuram in 1967.
And nearly 40 years later, as he was pushed to the sidelines of Kerala politics, he pursued his M.A. in public administration as a distance education student of Madurai Kamaraj University, Tamil Nadu. Chacko’s studentship and appearance in the examination, after he had become an MP for three times, made headlines.
Chacko was the industries minister in the Left Front government led by E.K. Nayanar during 1980-81.
After 30 years, Chacko has bounced back to a prominent post as the JPC chief, political observers point out.
“It is a crown for Chacko’s parliamentary capabilities and experience. One hopes it will not turn into a crown of thorns,” said a Congress MP.
The JPC has been formed to probe alleged irregularities in 2G spectrum allocation by A. Raja, who quit as communications minister in November. The scam is reported to have cost the exchequer a notional loss of Rs.1.76 crore.