The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on 2G scam on Wednesday turned messy as BJP members stormed out of its meeting over the issue of calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P Chidambaram and threatened to quit from it.
Amid growing bitterness between ruling and opposition side in the 30-member JPC, all the five BJP members present at the meeting walked out, claiming that Congress members had used foul language when they pressed for calling Singh and Chidambaram.
The BJP members insisted that it was necessary to call Singh and Chidambaram for a "fair investigation" into the 2G spectrum allocation scam of 2008.
Congress members opposed the demand, saying such senior ministers should not be subjected to "insult" just for "political gains" of BJP.
JPC Chairman PC Chacko said there was no provocation for the walkout and it was a "pre-determined" step.
BJP members -- Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Dharmendra Pradhan, Gopinath Munde and Ravishankar Prasad -- left the meeting about two hours after JPC assembled to finalise the list of persons who shall depose before the Committee.
They indicated that they were contemplating quitting the JPC, saying a decision on this would be taken later.
Chacko had circulated a draft list of 107 persons, including Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram besides BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Shourie, for finalisation.
During the meeting, BJP's Jaswant Singh said the Prime Minister and Chidambaram should be called before the JPC.
Congress MP Deepender Hooda charged the BJP with politicising the issue and converting the proceedings into a 'kangaroo court' (a mock court which has no regard to principles of justice).
This triggered angry protests by BJP and a war of words during which even CPI member Gurudas Dasgupta took objection to use of such terms.
"We walked out of the meeting after Congress members used foul language when we demanded settling the issue of list of witness which has been pending for eight weeks now," Yashwant Sinha told reporters after the walkout.
Asked whether BJP members would be quitting the JPC that was formed after Opposition stalled Parliament's entire Winter Session of 2010, Sinha said, "We walked out today, we will take a call on that (resignation) later."
Wednesday's meeting of the JPC, which normally meets once every week, was convened after a gap of 20 days because of sharp differences over the list of witnesses.
JPC Chairman PC Chacko countered the BJP charge claiming that they "walked out without any provocation".
"It was perhaps a pre-determined walkout...they should have waited for the Chair's decision before leaving," he said, adding no decision was taken on calling political leaders.
Chacko appealed to BJP to return to the meetings. "I would be the happiest person if they stay with the Committee till the report is tabled... we can sit day and night to debate on each paragraph in the draft report. But to reach that stage we have to move forward."
Chacko, who had met members individually to iron out differences, said he got no impression of such an action by BJP when talked to Yashwant Sinha.
Congress member Manish Tewari hit out by by saying it was BJP's gameplan to score political brownie points and said his party would not allow the Parliamentary Committee to be used as a "political theatre" by anybody.
He denied use of foul language against the BJP members in the meeting. "If there was any insinuation, any averment that I used any unparliamentary language, I reject it with the vehemence it deserves," he said, adding if there was any unparliamentary word, the Chairman could expunge it.
"(If) you believe that treating high dignitaries in an ignominious manner is that your remit is, then under no circumstances it can be permitted," he said.
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the question of inviting the Prime Minister or the finance minister is not ruled out on the basis of technicality or legality.