Events have come a full circle for BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who has often felt sidelined by his party or found himself at loggerheads with other party leaders. On Thursday, Joshi found his stock going up within the BJP — after a stormy meeting of Parliament's public accounts committee (PAC), which he heads.
As the Congress and allies “ousted” Joshi from the panel’s chairmanship to counter his draft report’s indictment of the government in the 2G scam, Joshi earned accolades within the BJP.
His draft report, which does not spare even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or then finance minister P Chidambaram, proved a shot in the arm for the opposition’s anti-corruption campaign.
Soon after the PAC meeting chaos, BJP leader LK Advani and other leaders were in touch with Joshi as the party planned to scale up its campaign against the Congress’s plan to “defame” Joshi and the parliamentary institution. These leaders were expected to go into a huddle shortly to draw up a plan to counter the Congress claims.
BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, saw a pattern to the attack on Joshi. “The BJP condemns the calculated, deliberate and sponsored attack on Murli Manohar Joshi. As soon as the PAC investigation entered top, sensitive departments concerted attempt began to stall the PAC report at any cost. We see it as part of a pattern... There is a dogged refusal to allow a fair probe,” he said.
The situation for Joshi, is drastically different from what it was six months ago. The Congress was happy with him as PAC head then and Singh had even offered to appear before the panel.
Last December, the Congress even sought to drive a wedge in the BJP, saying the party should either seek Joshi's resignation as PAC head or Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj should step down as they appeared to have diverse views on the issue.
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari had deputed a party functionary to talk to Joshi to “request” him to let a JPC be formed. Joshi agreed not to speak publicly against the BJP’s line pressing for a JPC while continuing to summon officials, telecom companies heads and even lobbyist Niira Radia.
Once the government conceded the Opposition’s demand for a JPC to ensure passage of the budget in Parliament, Joshi insisted PAC would complete its work of probing the 2G scam.
Later the speaker told Congress leader PC Chacko, head of the newly set-up JPC and Joshi to sort out the issue of overlapping roles among themselves.
With the PAC’s tenure to end on May 5, Joshi lost no time in writing the draft that he knew would prove a thorn in Congress’s flesh.