Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Murli Manohar Joshi on Tuesday said the Congress will have to “face the music for supporting corruption” in the upcoming session of Parliament as the Speaker Meira Kumar has returned his report on the 2G spectrum allotment scam.
The draft report was returned to him since it was not adopted by the committee. Eleven of the 21 members on the PAC had opposed the report. The report had accused jailed DMK MP and former telecom minister A. Raja of “misleading” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by telling him that the auction of spectrum was “considered” but not recommended by the telecom commission and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. It charged the PMO with violation of basic norms of governance and “looking the other way” when there was a difference of opinion between the telecom and law ministries over the allotment of spectrum.
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Joshi refused to comment on the Speaker’s decision. “The Speaker is competent to take a view,” he said. The decision to return his report was apparently communicated to the PAC chairman in a letter by the Speaker.
He, however, did not divulge the contents of the letter. But the veteran BJP leader had strong words for the Congress which disrupted proceedings on the day his report was to be submitted to the Speaker. “The Congress has wholeheartedly decided to support corruption. But they will not escapeâ€¦They will have to face the music in Parliament,” Joshi said, indicating that the upcoming session will be stormy given the sharp division between the BJP and the Congress on corruption.
Other Opposition members were in agreement. According to an Opposition MP, the “war” that started in the PAC will be continued in the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) that is probing the 2G scam.
He was referring to the manner in which the UPA, with the help of the SP and the BSP, sabotaged the proceedings of the PAC in its last meeting on April 28. The PAC, which met to adopt the draft report on the 2G spectrum issue, saw the UPA members in the panel “rejecting” the report and demanding Joshi’s resignation as chairman. At the same time, the SP and BSP members said they needed more time to study the contents of the report and take a view on the issue.
The Opposition members, however, approved the draft report and said they would support Joshi if he submitted the report to the Speaker before April 30.
The ball, since then, had been in Speaker Meira Kumar’s court. The UPA members had written to her saying that they have lost the confidence in Joshi and he was scuttling the “democratic” process within the parliamentary panel. The SP and BSP members had separately written to her saying that they needed more time to study the report.
The Speaker’s decision has, naturally, come as a major relief to the embattled Congress. However, AICC general secretary and media department chairperson Janardan Dwivedi declined to comment. He said it was up to the Speaker to take a view on the draft report. The Speaker is currently out of the country.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general PDT Achary said the report was only a “draft” and the Speaker was not bound to accept it in the first place. A report becomes a report only when it is approved by the committee.
In the absence of that, Achary said, it does not have the status of a report. Asked if the PAC can revisit the issue again, Achary said that depended on the committee. “It has to take a view. The new PAC has to decide whether it wants to take up the 2G spectrum issue again. The chairman on his own cannot select the subject,” he added.