High drama at PAC meet: UPA coup leaves Joshi battered
The Congress and DMK, with the help of SP and BSP members, outnumbered the opposition and “rejected” Parliament’s public accounts committee’s (PAC) report on the 2G scam. Saroj Nagi reports. Graphics: Blow by blowdelhi Updated: Apr 29, 2011 02:36 IST
The 22-member panel’s last meeting ended in chaos, with chairman Murli Manohar Joshi ‘voted out’ of his post by the Congress-led 11 members, which also ‘elected’ Rajya Sabha member Saifuddin Soz to the chair.
This was after Joshi and the nine other members of opposition parties left — described by some as a walk-out. The resolution rejecting the panel’s finding was taken under Soz’s chairmanship. The BJP described it as a planned attack on parliamentary institutions.
It was trouble from the word go in the morning session as each member spoke, with some calling for a CBI probe into the leakage and others seeking a vote on the report. Post-lunch, the 11 member group raised a loud demand for a vote. There was pandemonium and the meeting ended abruptly in less then 10 minutes.
As the PAC stood politically divided, the Congress-led group rubbished the document which had indicted former telecom minister A Raja, criticised the prime minister’s office and home minister P Chidambaram and taken a swipe at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the 2G allocation. It alleged that the report contained inaccuracies, was incomplete, biased and prepared with malafide intentions to destabilise the government. Besides, it had not only been leaked but was also “outsourced”.
Angry that the report’s authenticity was being challenged, Joshi said that he would get it examined. Charges of “outsourcing”, if proved wrong, would amount to casting aspersions on the panel and the Secretariat and constitute a breach of privilege.
Amid speculation that Joshi could still submit the report before the existing PAC’s term ends on April 30, Soz submitted copies of the resolution rejecting the report at the offices of the PAC chairman and the Speaker who will return to Delhi on Friday.
Thursday’s high drama took place two days before the end of the term of the existing panel, which was supposed to have adopted the report. The Congress camp claims that the report stands “rejected” and cannot be taken up by the new PAC, which assumes charge on May 1. It claims that Joshi walked out of the meeting in a huff and the meeting chaired by Soz thereafter was in line with PAC rules whereby a member can preside when the chairman is not there.
The other side claims that Joshi “adjourned” the meeting and therefore anything that happened thereafter cannot be counted as part of the panel’s proceedings.