The BJP on Friday described as a ‘non-issue' the move of Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) chief P.C. Chacko to seek the opinion of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on the propriety of association of former Union Ministers with the committee, and alleged that it was being raked up to deflect attention from the panel's main objective.

At a joint news conference to mark the conclusion of the compressed budget session of Parliament, Leaders of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley said the BJP expected the JPC to work expeditiously and get to the bottom of the telecom scam.

They were responding to a question on the announcement by Mr. Chacko on Thursday that he was unanimously authorised by the JPC to approach the Speaker on 2G spectrum a possible conflict of interests of former Ministers who were part of the committee.

The JPC Chairman argued that since the committee was specifically mandated to probe the telecom policy pursued from 1998 to 2009, the committee members who were Union Ministers in successive governments from 1998 could not be expected to sit in judgment on issues related to policy to which they were a party.

Ms. Swaraj said that while her party would wait for a ruling from the Speaker, the fact of the matter was that the JPC members nominated by different parties on the basis of their strength in both Houses were unanimously approved by Parliament.

“If members of the ruling combine or any other party had any objection to the names on the committee, they should have raised it when the Finance Minister moved the motion. What is the point in raising the issue now.”

“PM referred to someone else”

On the comment by Prime Minister Manomohan Singh in the Lok Sabha, at the end of a discussion on his statement on the WikiLeaks exposé published in The Hindu on the “cash-for-votes” episode, that the former Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, considered it his birthright to become the Prime Minister, Mr. Jaitley said Dr. Singh had ‘someone else' on his mind.

“A democratic party like the BJP does not believe in the concept of birthright. Only parties that believe in dynasty and birth right of a political family to rule the country have such notions. Though the Prime Minister named Mr. Advani, he was addressing someone else,” Mr. Jaitley said.

At a separate news conference, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal contested Mr. Jaitley's interpretation and maintained that the Prime Minister's statement was specifically aimed at Mr. Advani.

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