The BJP on Monday dismissed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s offer of appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) saying it had only a limited mandate and that a JPC was required for answering questions even about the formation of the government.

“The Prime Minister said that I have nothing to hide and Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion. Caesar’s wife never chose the forum of her own inquiry but he has chosen the forum also by saying that he was ready to appear before the PAC,” BJP leader Arun Jaitley contended.

The reaction came after the Prime Minister said he had nothing to hide and was ready to appear before the PAC as Caesar’s wife should always be above suspicion.

On Dr. Singh’s assertion that he had nothing to hide, Mr. Jaitley said, “When he says that, then we would say that there are many things which are still hidden.”

The BJP leader said the Government will have to answer many questions like “How was this Government formed, who chose the party which will get the Telecom portfolio and which individual would get the portfolio from that party, who had done that. Was there a role played by the industrial houses and the lobbyists?”

PAC has a limited mandate: Jaitley

Mr. Jaitley said the mandate of PAC is limited as it can only give para-wise comments on the CAG report, which is the internal auditor of the Government of India whereas the issue of 2G spectrum allocation to be probed was “purely political”.

“In last seven years, who buried the Bofors issue, who appointed a tainted person as CVC, who is said to be the Prime Minister’s individual choice... we request him that he should answer all these things. This issue can’t be dealt by a committee looking into audit reports but only by the Parliament or a JPC formed by it,” he said.

On the 2G spectrum issue, he said the Government must answer questions as to how a tainted minister was allowed to continue for three years after the reports of the scam came in 2007 and why action was not taken against him.

“All these questions can’t be answered before a committee looking into auditor’s report. This has to be done before that Parliament of India or a JPC appointed by it,” Mr. Jaitley said.

Welcoming the “breaking of silence” by the Prime Minister on the 2G spectrum issue, Mr. Jaitley said the BJP would request him not to choose the forum for doing so.

“If he believes that he or his government has not done anything wrong, then why is he getting into this PAC vs JPC debate. JPC is a Parliamentary committee and it is its mandate to probe. He should appear before the JPC and the government should give a mandate to the JPC and it should agree for it,” he added.

Mr. Jaitley said that while inducting seven “tainted” ministers in his cabinet in 2004, Dr. Singh had maintained that they were to be presumed not guilty till their guilt was proven. “At that time Manmohan Singh had not said that Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion,” he said.

'Congress suffering from BJP-phobia'

Claiming that Congress was suffering from “BJP-phobia” and appeared to be on the back-foot, Mr. Jaitley said, “a strange situation has emerged as instead of talking about their achievements in the meeting to mark party’s 125 years, they are talking about the BJP.”

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