Soon after senior BJP leader and Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Murli Manohar Joshi had punctured the BJP’s arguments for a JPC without mentioning the party, it paid him back in his own coin, reiterating its position without naming him.
Officially, however, it played down the significance of his statements.
While Joshi had said the scope of the PAC was not limited to scrutiny of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report — a line that directly contradicted the BJP’s prime argument for a JPC — Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj tweeted to set the record straight, but without referring to him.
“The scope of PAC is totally different from that of JPC,” she wrote. “While PAC deals with accounts, JPC deals with accountability and governance.”
She added, again obliquely countering Joshi’s statement that the PAC would take a considered view on the PM’s offer to appear before it, “Under Lok Sabha Rules, PAC cannot call a Minister, much less the Prime Minister. Prime Minister’s offer, therefore, has no meaning.”
Officially, however, the party denied that Joshi’s position was at odds with its line and had, in fact, embarrassed it.
“I am sure the PAC chairman is aware of his duties there. But the BJP would reiterate the demand for a JPC, as there are various aspects that can be looked into only by it,” said BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy. “The PAC chairman is doing his work. But he has never said that a JPC is not needed.” When asked if the party will take any action against Joshi, he said, “For what? What you are asking is a non-issue.”
BJP leaders when asked dodged any direct answer as to whether Joshi’s statements had damaged the party’s political position vis-à-vis the JPC demand, but threw ample hints that they were far from pleased with his stand.
“It is true that he is the PAC chairperson and is doing his work. But the alacrity with which he is taking it up is another question,” a BJP leader said sarcastically.
Through the day there were also speculations whether Joshi would be retained the PAC chairperson after his term gets over in a little over three months, but party leaders brushed these away.