Turning the tables on the BJP over its demand to call finance minister P Chidambaram before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), panel chairman PC Chacko has pointed out that it may lead to the resignation of two former finance ministers —party members Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh —from the parliamentary forum.
Rebutting a recent letter by Sinha accusing Chacko of acting in an undemocratic fashion, the JPC chairman reportedly wrote on Wednesday that if Chidambaram was called before the panel, the same rule would apply to Sinha and Singh. Consequently, they may have to resign from the JPC because it would be awkward for them to participate in any debate arising from their own depositions, Chacko contended.
Taking his cues from a reference book on parliamentary practice and procedure, the JPC chairman said that a committee cannot call its own members for deposition. Also, it is not permitted to call a minister, let alone the Prime Minister.
Chacko’s reply comes a day before the JPC’s meeting, to be held on Thursday. The BJP had boycotted the last two meetings over their demand to call Chidambaram and Prime Minister (PM) Manmohan Singh.
Dismissing the opposition’s demand for calling the PM, Chacko’s letter stated that all files and documents of the PMO pertaining to the 2G spectrum allocation were already available with the probe panel, and Singh had also furnished a detailed explanation on the issue in Parliament. He may have nothing new to say now, it added.
Chacko told HT that there was no threat to the panel due to the BJP’s boycott. “Of 30 members, only six are avoiding the meetings. We can still produce the report. But BJP members are not using the opportunity to quiz other key witnesses from bureaucratic circles… Their boycott is uncalled for. It is just a political move,” he added.
Last week, Chacko referred the BJP’s demand on Chidambaram to Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar. She replied that the JPC would have to settle the issue before seeking her approval.