M A I N   N E W S

Cong does a coup, takes over PAC
Corners Joshi, ‘rejects’ draft report with help of SP, BSP; chaos rules meet
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, April 28
In an unprecedented development that dealt a body blow to the non-partisan functioning of the parliamentary committee system in India, members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today took political positions to block adoption of the panel’s draft report on the 2G Spectrum allocation issue.

With just two days left in the life of the current PAC, adoption of the report looks unlikely and the same might now be referred to the next PAC which comes into being after April 30.

The report, which came up for consideration before the 21-member PAC, could not be adopted due to bitter opposition from members of the Congress-DMK ruling combine who had the support of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party MPs as they accused committee chairman and BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi of “pursuing a hidden agenda and outsourcing report’s drafting”. The report indicts former Telecom Minister A Raja and questions the role of the PM, PMO and the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the scam.

Against all rules, UPA members of the PAC today went to the extent of electing Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Saifuddin Soz as their chairman and rejecting the draft report unilaterally after Joshi adjourned proceedings amid chaos created by the ruling alliance MPs. They wanted leakage of the report investigated.

Claiming that Joshi walked out of the meeting when they demanded voting on the draft report, the Congress-DMK combine, led by Soz, Naveen Jindal, KS Rao and Satpal Maharaj, cited Rule 61 of the Parliament proceedings to elect a new chairman and defeat the report by a majority of 11 MPs (seven from Congress; 2 from DMK and one each from the BSP and SP) in a panel of 21 (one position is vacant). The ruling alliance MPs said rules permitted election of the new chairman as the incumbent had left the meeting and was unavailable.

Joshi, however, said there was no provision in the rules of election of a new chairman when the chairman duly appointed by the Lok Sabha Speaker was in place. “Reappointment can happen only if the chairman is physically unfit or he refuses to come. I adjourned the meeting and did not walk out. There is no case for appointment of another chairman. I will report the matter to the Speaker,” he said.

PAC’s NDA members claimed the ruling combine defeated the report’s adoption as it highlights the role of the PM, PMO and Chidambaram in the case. Lok Sabha sources, however, said the report can’t be submitted to the Speaker or the Parliament unless adopted by the PAC. They added that the PAC chairman can only be appointed by the Speaker and today’s action by the Congress-DMK combine had no validity. Moreover, PAC is a Lok Sabha committee which can’t have a Rajya Sabha MP (Soz) as chairman.

A day of drama

  • Right from the word go, seven Congress MPs, supported by two from the DMK, attacked MM Joshi over leakage of the report.
  • BJP members came to defend Joshi. Both sides exchanged heated words and Joshi said he was “adjourning the meeting abruptly as there was no order”.
  • Stating that the PAC chief had “run away”, 11 UPA and BSP members “elected” senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz as their “chairman for the sitting” and “unanimously” passed the “resolution” rejecting the draft.
  • Later, Soz went to Joshi's office and left the “resolution” that was “passed”.




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