Says Manmohan unwilling to name those who “smuggled” Thomas' name into the panel of 3 names

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley told journalists on Tuesday that he was “dissatisfied” with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's response to clarifications sought by him on the latter's statement relating to the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) appointment although he refrained from saying this in the House.

His position was in contrast to that of his counterpart in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, who had appreciated the Prime Minister's statement from Jammu owning responsibility even before he stated this in the House. It was time to “let matters rest,” she had said, even as the party's senior leader L.K. Advani clearly indicated there would be no point in demanding the Prime Minister's resignation.

While Mr. Jaitley too stopped short of asking for the Prime Minister's resignation, he did make Dr. Singh acknowledge that he was “accountable” and “responsible” for the “erroneous” appointment of a charge-sheeted CVC that was later quashed by the Supreme Court.

“The fact is the name of Mr. P.J. Thomas was smuggled into the panel of three names for this sensitive appointment. Those who smuggled in his name hid from the high-level appointment committee the fact he was facing charges of corruption. And, yet, the Prime Minister was not willing to name officials or others responsible for this grave lapse,” Mr. Jaitley said.

For him it was “not enough” that the Prime Minister clearly stated he was “responsible” and “accountable” since he also heads the Department of Personnel and Training that draws up the panel of names.

Deviating from the publicly articulated party line given by Ms. Swaraj that the Prime Minister had said he was responsible and that was “enough,” Mr. Jaitley used his prerogative to seek clarifications in the Rajya Sabha, a right not available to members of the Lok Sabha.

He sought answers on who was keen to ensure that the CVC's job went to Mr. Thomas. Who had prepared the short-list of three names and who had deliberately hid the fact of the pending charge-sheet against Mr. Thomas? Why were the other two with clean records who were on the panel ignored? The point he made was the Prime Minister was “shielding” someone.

‘Nothing much to do'

While the entire issue was certainly articulated differently by Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Jaitley, it is also pointed out by leaders that with the Supreme Court quashing the appointment and the Prime Minister taking full responsibility, there was nothing much more for the BJP to do.

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