The Congress might have distanced itself from the controversy surrounding the appointment of PJ Thomas as the central vigilance commissioner (CVC), but there is visible unease in the party over the recent developments. Informal efforts to persuade Thomas to step down on his own have not yielded any success so far.
But government sources said "these informal channels are still working on him for his early exit" as otherwise his removal can happen only after a lengthy legal and technical procedure.
The party is on the backfoot over the government's stand in SC that the high-powered committee for the selection of the CVC was not informed about a pending chargesheet against Thomas and the sanction granted by the Kerala government to prosecute him in the palm oil import case in the state.
The general refrain in the Congress is that it's a matter between the government and SC. "The Congress, as a political party, is not in the picture when it comes to making appointments like the CVC," elaborated party media department head Janardan Dwivedi.
His colleague Shakeel Ahmed put the onus of any explanation in the matter on the government. "If SC has asked for a clarification, it is for the law officers of the government to explain," he said.
But there is a division in the party over his continuation in office. A section is of the opinion that Thomas should "voluntarily resigns and save the government further embarrassment".
The other section, however, came out strongly in his defence. "Thomas has an impeccable service record. Even the Left government in Kerala promoted him after his name was cleared by the then CVC," a senior party functionary said.
He accused the BJP leadership of "selectively targeting" people from the minority and backward communities who are on the top posts. "BJP is only targeting the people from minority and dalit communities like former CJI KG Balakrishnan, Sikkim HC Chief Justice PD Dinakaran and now Thomas," he said.
This section favours wait and watch policy on the issue.