Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi — at the centre of the Congress-led coalition's attack for his report criticising the prime minister’s office over the 2G spectrum scam — was reappointed chairman of Parliament's public accounts committee (PAC) for a second term on Sunday.
The move is likely to further fuel tensions between the government and the Opposition over the controversial report.
The government greeted the announcement with a barb. Pawan Kumar Bansal, parliamentary affairs minister who acts as a bridge between Parliament and government, issued a statement accusing Joshi and the BJP of trying to stifle the view of the majority to “malign and vilify” the UPA government.
Bansal, who challenged Joshi's contention that the PAC chief did not have to go by the majority view, also advised Joshi to engage in “some honest introspection and make amends for inflicting a lacerating wound on Indian democracy”.
The statement amplified the view that the divide between the government and the Opposition — which holds the PAC chief's post by convention — was unlikely to be bridged soon.
“The Speaker has appointed Dr Murli Manohar Joshi as chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts,” said a Lok Sabha bulletin on the new 22-member committee that examines reports of the CAG.
The reconstituted PAC is evenly divided between the UPA and non-UPA members. With 11 members, the Congress-led alliance would outnumber the Opposition if the SP and the BSP continue to back it.
But there is no clarity on the fate of the controversial draft report that Joshi sent to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Saturday.
Former Lok Sabha secretary-general Subhash C Kashyap said Kumar has three options.
The first is to lay the report in Parliament along with communications received from Joshi and the other dissenting members. The second is to decide against laying it, which would imply its rejection. The third would be to send it back to the committee with a request to complete the process of considering the draft report.
The UPA has rejected the draft report, which is critical of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his office, the then finance minister P Chidambaram and attorney general GE Vahanvati.