An outraged Congress on Thursday lit into Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi for leaking the draft Public Accounts Committee report on the 2G scam which, it says, is “full of lies” and does not have the endorsement of a majority of the PAC members.
Publicly, the Congress endorsed the action of its members on the PAC who, along with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, appointed a new interim chairman, Saifuddin Soz, and passed a resolution rejecting the report.
Privately, however, ever since the report was leaked on Wednesday, there have been several rounds of consultations among top Ministers on the possible fallout, and how to deal with the revelations: those involved in the informal discussions included Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, sources said.
Thursday's strategy, the sources said, was to let party spokespersons, rather than the government, respond to the situation. Congress media committee chairperson Janardan Dwivedi told journalists, “The Congress supports the stand of its members on the PAC and the rejection of the report.”
Earlier, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan demanded an explanation from Dr. Joshi why he had leaked a draft report. “He has destroyed the institution of PAC,” she said.
“Grave injustice has been done to parliamentary democracy by the BJP and Dr. Joshi by including demonstrably and blatant falsehoods in the report and then compounding it by leaking what is a draft report, before all the members have even seen it.”
Ms. Natarajan accused the BJP of deliberately trying to politicise the report.
To a question whether the rejection of the report would be read as an effort by the Congress-DMK combine to hide its own shortcomings, rather than as an expression of anger against allegedly unethical methods adopted by Dr. Joshi, a Cabinet Minister told The Hindu: “There is a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into the 2G scam by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the United Progressive Alliance government accepted the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into the 2G scam, since the BJP, which blocked the entire winter session on the issue, wanted it. How can anyone say we are trying to hide anything?”
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said it was “extremely unfortunate” that Dr. Joshi “pressed for the approval of a report which did not find acceptance with the majority of the PAC members.”