The Bharatiya Janata Party's efforts to build a consensus for the ouster of its expelled leader, Jaswant Singh, as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee hit a wall with the Government on Friday saying he can continue in the post.
"In the rules, there is no provision of removing chairman or member (of PAC) unless (one) is incapacitated," the Finance Minister and Leader of Lok Sabha, Pranab Mukherjee, said here. Mr. Mukherjee's obesrvations come against the backdrop of moves by the Opposition BJP to seek political support for Mr. Singh's removal as PAC chief.
Explaining further, Mr. Mukherjee said, "He (a member) may be of unsound mind...whatever he may be, there is no way of removing him. It is a very unusual situation and we shall have to find out how this matter could be resolved."
The Deputy Leader of BJP in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, met Mr. Mukherjee last week to discuss the issue and get Congress support for Mr. Singh's removal. The BJP has already made a public appeal to Mr. Singh, saying the post belongs to the main opposition and was given by the party to him.
Speaker Meira Kumar has already stated that as per rules, once the PAC chairperson is appointed he can be removed only if the Speaker finds that he cannot do his job.
On Thursday, Ms. Kumar appointed Mr. Singh to a committee on budget estimates, a step many see as an indication to BJP that she does not want him to quit the PAC post.
Mr. Mukherjee also seemed to echo these sentiments when he said: "Essentially the matter is to be resolved by the Speaker. If the honourable Speaker seeks our advice, as the Leader of the House I may help."
"I would like to state [the] actual position. So far, as the rule is concerned, not only the Chairman of the Parliamentary committee but also members of the Parliamentary committee are aappointed by the honourable Speaker," he added.
Mr. Mukherjee added that the current tussle between Mr. Singh and the BJP was their internal matter. "This is basically a matter between the individual and decision makers in BJP," he said.