In a dramatic new twist to the telecom controversy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday offered to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is examining the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG)'s report on the 2G spectrum scam.
Speaking on the concluding day of the 83rd plenary session of the Congress here, Dr. Singh, in an emotional passage, accused the BJP “of falsely propagating” that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was opposed to setting up a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the scam as it did not want the Prime Minister questioned by it.
“I wish to state categorically,” the Prime Minister said, “that I have nothing to hide from the public at large and as proof of my bona fides, I intend to write to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee that I shall be happy to appear before the PAC if it chooses to ask me to do so…even though there is no precedent to that effect.”
As Prime Minister, he said, he had tried to serve his country to the best of his ability, and since he believed that “like Caesar's wife, the Prime Minister should be above suspicion,” he was prepared to be appear before the PAC.
Dr. Singh's offer highlighted the anxiety in the party that if the Opposition did not relent on its JPC demand and stalled the budget session of Parliament as well, the UPA's credibility would get further eroded.
Like every other party leader, he also ruled out a JPC probe, saying that since the government had initiated “multifaceted action” against those involved in the scam, setting up a JPC would only “delay the inquiry and politicise the matter.”
Simultaneously, he assured the party that his government would implement a five-point action plan to tackle corruption that was suggested by party president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday.
The Prime Minister promised that all those against whom evidence was found in the ongoing enquiries into the Commonwealth Games mess and the 2G spectrum scam would be punished. “No guilty person will be spared — whether he is a political leader or a government official, whichever party he may belong to and howsoever powerful he may be.”
Dr. Singh also dwelt at length on the government's “skilful” management of the economy during the global slowdown. He said he expected that the growth rate from next year onwards would be between 9 and 10 per cent.
This, he said, would help the government to invest more resources in the social sector, especially in education and health.