BJP members in JPC on 2G spectrum scam abstained the panel proceedings on Thursday saying unless Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P Chidambaram are called before it the Committee will not be able to deliver a fair report.
BJP also accused JPC chairman PC Chacko
of running the panel in a "dictatorial" way.
The six BJP members in the JPC had, during its last meeting on October 11, stayed away from the proceedings accusing Chacko of failing to finalise the list of witnesses and sought the inclusion of the Prime Minister and Chidambaram in it.
"...To run the JPC unlike the parliamentary tradition and in a sort of a dictatorial way, I think the JPC is not going to deliver a complete fair report. I appeal to Congress not to sabotage every inquiry into the scandals which this government is famous or infamous for," party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.
She said, "I think the JPC will achieve nothing much and therefore BJP's demand from the beginning has been that we want the FM and the PM to come in... BJP's position as regards the JPC remains the same. We want to call the Prime Minister and the finance minister because otherwise the three main people who have been involved in this matter will not be inquired into."
Chacko, a senior Congress MP, however said that Speaker Meira Kumar, to whom he had written last week seeking an opinion on calling ministers as witnesses, too had asked the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to first arrive at a decision on the matter before she gives her ruling on the subject.
"If I was to call them (Prime Minister and finance minister) as witnesses, it would have happened by now. There is no question of calling the Prime Minister, as there is no precedent. With regard to the ministers, if there is an unanimous decision, we will call them," he said after a daylong meeting of the JPC in which former cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar deposed.
He said the JPC will meet again at a later date to consider this issue and arrive at a decision.
"It is always good if there is an unanimous decision. If there is no unanimity, there has to be a majority decision," he said on calling the ministers before the panel.
To a query on convincing the six BJP members to return to the meeting, the Congress MP said all his efforts till now had failed in this regard.
Regarding the letter written by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on the matter, Chacko said he had already replied to every point raised by him on the list of witnesses.
Sinha and his five party colleagues have been away wanting Chacko to finalise the witnesses list and to take a decision on calling the Prime Minister and finance minister to depose.
The JPC chief said that the panel functioned as per rules and regulations that apply to any other parliamentary committee and that neither the Prime Minister nor the ministers could be summoned under these.
"If the committee felt it should question the ministers, then the matter could be referred to the speaker, who can then take a call on having the ministers before the panel. But as of now, the speaker felt that it is premature for her to take a decision before the committee decides on the matter," he noted.
Earlier in July and September, BJP members had stormed out of the JPC meeting accusing Chacko of being "biased" and charged Congress members of the panel with using foul language against them.
BJP has told Chacko that it will not attend the JPC meetings till the list of witnesses is finalised and the Prime Minister and the finance minister are summoned.
Sitharaman said BJP maintains its position of not attending the panel proceedings till the Prime Minister and the finance minister are called before it.
"For the sake of the people of this country, I think it is important to have the Prime Minister and the finance minister to appear (before JPC). Today because this option has not still been given and on the contrary we are being told not to ask any more questions, BJP has stayed away from JPC," she said.
The BJP spokesperson reminded that had it not been for her party JPC would not have been constituted.
"We have been keen to know what policy formulations went wrong, what checks and balances were removed, what kind of tweaking of policy had happened and in what way the decision-makers had kept this country away from the facts," she said.
Sitharaman said more complications have to be looked into and reiterated BJP's position of making the then finance minister and Prime Minister a part of this JPC.
She said though the criminality part in the 2G case was being looked into by the courts, what went wrong in the policy is still to be looked into.
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