Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said he took the responsibility for the appointment of PJ Thomas as the central vigilance commissioner of the country. He broke his silence in Jammu, a day after the Supreme Court struck down the appointment as illegal, adding to the several knocks the government has taken to its image.
“The Supreme Court has pronounced and as a loyal citizen of the country… I accept it. I respect the judgment… I accept my responsibility in the appointment of PJ Thomas as central vigilance commissioner of India,’’ the PM said.
Unlike his earlier claim regarding the appointment of DMK’s A Raja as telecom minister, the PM this time underlined that “this is not a question which relates to the compulsions of the coalition”. He dismissed insinuations that Thomas’ elevation was at the behest of a coalition partner.
Reacting to a question on his line of action after the verdict, Singh said he would speak in Parliament first. Asked if he would make a statement, he said: “I have not made up my mind... I think the issue you have raised is an important issue. It is necessary to ensure that such things do not happen again.’’
But the reverberations of Singh’s statement are likely to be felt within the Congress. His remarks ruling out any coalition compulsion for the appointment is being interpreted to mean that it was wholly a decision of the Congress — a point of view that is becoming a talking point in some sections of the party. As it is, there have been questions about the political reasons behind the appointment of Thomas as CVC, despite Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s dissent.
Already, the Supreme Court has raised questions on why the appointment committee — comprising the PM, home minister P Chidambaram and Swaraj — did not have the full facts of the palmolein scam case in which Thomas was reportedly involved and which caused a loss of Rs 2.32 crore to the exchequer.
On Friday, Swaraj tweeted that the matter should be laid to rest after the PM’s statement. But her part was not unanimous on this.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury demanded that the PM explain to the nation how the decision to appoint Thomas was taken when his name figured in the corruption case.