M.M. Joshi: How far will this go?

Asked whether he tried to give a clean chit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the 2G issue, Public Accounts Committee chairman Murli Manohar Joshi on Saturday said, “I have not given a clean chit to anybody. The PM remained a mute spectator (to the 2G scam), that is what the report has mentioned.” The report had criticised the

PM for his “desire” to keep the PMO at “arm’s length” on the 2G spectrum allocation issue. The report had also questioned the role of the finance ministry, then headed by Mr P. Chidambaram.
Dr Joshi argued: “Today the PAC’s report will be thrown into the dustbin, tomorrow Parliament’s proposals and then the Supreme Court’s orders. How far will this go?” Dr Joshi maintained that the claim being made by 11 of the 21-member committee that the report had been “rejected” was “unconstitutional”. “This is not possible till the report is read and discussed para by para,” Dr Joshi said.
He also accused the government of trying to subvert the functioning of the PAC and said the issue was being “politicised”. He asked “whether a constitutionally-empowered parliamentary panel should work on party lines” and claimed that witnesses were told by the ruling side members not to answer questions.
Without identifying anyone, Dr Joshi said “some of the ministers were sending slips, making calls and using members as puppets to disrupt the functioning of the meeting”. Dr Joshi said it is the duty of the PAC to “trace and examine the way the money of the common man is spent”. He added that all was “fine till the April 4 meeting. Even the Prime Minister was ready to appear before the PAC.” He recalled that then “suddenly everything changed. The Congress members became restive and the atmosphere was vitiated.” Asked why former telecom minister A. Raja, the main accused in the scam, was not called by the PAC, he said there was no time to call him “as he is in jail and procedures would have taken a long while the term of the present committee was coming to an end today”. Meanwhile, parliamentary affairs minister P.K. Bansal said Dr Joshi had “no right to submit the draft report as it was rejected by a majority of the committee’s members”.

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