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Prime Minister writes to PAC chief, ready to depose before panel

Posted by on December 27, 2010 0 Comment

New Delhi, Dec 27: Following on his assurance to the Congress plenary a week ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday wrote to Public Accounts Committee chairman Murli Manohar Joshi and conveyed his willingness to appear before the panel in connection with the 2G spectrum scandal.

Amid the opposition’s unrelenting demand for a probe by a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) into the 2008 2G spectrum scam, Manmohan Singh said in his letter that there was no precedent for the prime minister appearing before a PAC, but he was ready to do so.

“To the best of my knowledge, the PAC takes evidence from the secretaries of the departments concerned or the heads of departments or the public sector undertakings,” Manmohan Singh wrote in his letter to Joshi, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.

“However, in view of the recent propaganda that the prime minister is unwilling to be questioned by a parliamentary committee, I would like to inform you that I am willing to appear before the PAC should the committee choose to seek clarifications from the prime minister, though I believe there is no precedent of the prime minister appearing before a PAC,” the prime minister wrote.

Alluding to the report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) into the issue of licences and allocation of 2G spectrum by the department of telecommunications, the prime minister said his office has provided relevant documents sought by the PAC. The CAG report was tabled in parliament in November.

“As you are aware, the public accounts committee has sought copies of correspondence between the prime minister and the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) and between the prime minister’s office and the department of telecommunications on issues relating to 2G and 3G spectrum allocation,” he wrote.

“I understand the relevant documents have been forwarded to the committee,” he added.

A week ago, Manmohan Singh had announced at the end of the Congress plenary at Burari in northwest Delhi that he would be “happy to appear” before the PAC though there was no precedent and he intended to write to Joshi in this regard.

“I wish to state categorically that I have nothing to hide from the public at large and as a proof of my bonafides I intend to write to the chairman of the PAC that I shall be happy to appear before the PAC, if it chooses to ask me to do so,” the prime minister had said.

Manmohan Singh’s letter to the PAC came on a day when the Comptroller and Auditor General, whose report on a presumed loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer in 2G spectrum allocation triggered an uproar in parliament, appeared before the PAC.

Vinod Rai, the CAG whose report indicted former telecom minister A. Raja for alleged irregularities in 2G spectrum allocation, appeared before the 22-member PAC in Parliament House in the morning.

The PAC is going ahead with its examination of the controversial 2G spectrum allocation despite the Opposition’s unrelenting demand for a JPC-led probe.

Hardening the government’s stand, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Friday ruled out a JPC into alleged irregularities in the 2G spectrum allocation and renewed his appeal to the opposition to let the parliament function smoothly.

Mukherjee had offered a special parliament session to debate the scam, but the proposal has been rejected by the opposition.  –(IANS)

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