BJP leader and Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Murli Manohar Joshi on Monday virtually punctured his party’s argument that nothing short of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum and other scams would be effective in punishing the guilty.
On the same day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to the PAC reiterating his offer, first made at the Congress plenary on December 20, to depose before it.
Joshi dispelled the notion – advanced by the BJP – that the scope of the PAC was limited to a point-by-point scrutiny of the comptroller and auditor general’s (CAG) report, and thus had too narrow a focus to look at scams with wider aspects.
The BJP disrupted Parliament through the winter session, refusing to accept anything but a JPC probe.
Joshi, talking to reporters after CAG Vinod Rai deposed before the PAC, insisted the PAC had a wide-ranging ambit. “We are not restricted to the CAG report,” he said. “If any allocation is made by Parliament and we have information from any source about any misappropriation, we can examine it.
In the past also, we have done several things where there was no CAG report.”
Joshi did not mention the BJP even once, and refused to comment on his differences with his own party over the JPC. But he is going full steam ahead with the PAC probe. “The PM has written to us and also sent documents demanded by the PAC. The bundles of letters will take some time to go through. The committee will go through them and take a decision at an appropriate time about his offer to appear before us,” he said.
Joshi also sought to dispel the notion — being voiced by people in the BJP — that he was going too fast on the PAC probe, which would undermine the Opposition’s JPC demand. “I became PAC chairperson only in May. It was under my predecessor Gopinath Munde (also the BJP) that the PAC decided to take up this issue,” he said. “The members told me of the prior decision when I assumed charge.”