Differences within the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) have come to the fore after the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal crossed swords for the membership of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is probing the 2G-spectrum scam and is being re-constituted.
SAD’s Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujral refused to withdraw his candidature and got elected to the panel by securing 29 votes — the second highest number — despite the BJP issuing a three-line whip to all its members to vote for its member Prakash Javadekar.
Sources said the BJP was “keen on sharing the spoils” with the DMK and wanted Gujral, son of former prime minister IK Gujral, to withdraw his nomination for the southern party. But Gujral went ahead and managed to get the support of independents and even some members from the ruling UPA.
Javadekar also got elected to the PAC by securing 41 votes.
The PAC comprises 15 members from the Lok Sabha and seven from the Rajya Sabha. The post of the PAC chairman always goes to the principal opposition party. The one-year term of the current PAC constituted on May 5, 2010, expires on April 30.
After it became clear that Gujral was going to get elected to the panel, the BJP sought to project him as a “joint” candidate. Gujral’s election to the panel, much to the discomfiture of the BJP, has for the first time brought to the fore the dissent within the NDA. The Akali Dal and the BJP have been allies for many years now.
During the discussion on WikiLeaks in the Lok Sabha, a remark by Congress MP Sukhdev Singh Libra — who was in the Akali Dal and switched over during the July 2008 trust vote — left the BJP benches red faced. He said the Akali Dal had initially decided to support the government but changed its stand.
Visibly upset with Gujral’s decision, many in BJP are wondering if the SAD leadership had given him the nod to contest.