Congress asks for removal of BJP members; SP may bail out Congress
As many as 15 of 30 members of the JPC on 2G, representing eight political parties, met the Speaker of Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar, on Thursday and separately handed over complaints expressing lack of confidence in JPC Chairman P. C. Chacko.
The parties pushing for Mr. Chacko’s removal are BJP, BJD, JD(U), CPI, CPI(M), TMC, DMK and AIADMK. Mr. Chacko, however, said the numbers are not very important. “When the committee was constituted, it was 15-15. Even now it is the same. Even if 15 have signed it does not mean that they are majority.”
(Fifteen members of the JPC are from the Congress, SP and BSP; Opposition parties constitute the other fifteen)
According to BJP leader, Ravi Shankar Prasad, “The manner in which the entire JPC was sought to be conducted gave the impression that perhaps an attempt is being made so that true facts may not come out. Many relevant witnesses, who ought to have been examined, were denied.” Emphasizing his view, he said, “Elementary principles of fairness demands Mr. Chacko now cannot preside on any meeting of the JPC. He should not preside – till a decision is taken”.
Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) said, “A signed, written memorandum has been submitted. We have expressed dissatisfaction over the functioning of the JPC.”
CPI Leader, Gurudas Dasgupta told The Hindu that the primary issue causing discontent was that Mr. Chacko had failed to generate genuine consensus through transparency and fairplay. “Mr. Chacko has always acted as a Congressman rather than a JPC chairman and acted in a partisan manner from the very beginning, including over the list of witnesses to be called before the JPC”.
Mr. Dasgupta expressed his discomfort with the report maligning the CAG based on the witness of a retired CAG official who, Mr. Dasgupta said, had given contradictory statements.
Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M) said, “This entire exercise is a cover up job. The manner in which the report was leaked was not acceptable. The confidence in the chairman to conclude the JPC report properly is not there.” Tiruchi Siva of the DMK said, “We have said that Mr. Raja wanted to come as a witness before the Committee and we have also suggested the same. But Mr. Chacko declined all the requests and he has decided all issues unilaterally.” The Samajwadi Party, as in the past, could come in to tide the Congress through. In a statement, they said: “We are against the 2G draft report, not the chairman”.
One of the members of the JPC has accused Mr. Chacko of, “whimsically changing the dates of the JPC meetings. This is violation of natural justice.”
Congress members have also complained to the Speaker, demanding the removal of Mr. Jaswant Singh, Mr. Yashwant Sinha on account of “conflict of interest”. They have separately demanded the removal of the party’s Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP.
Defending Mr. Chacko and the Congress Party, Mr. Kamal Nath, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, said: “All those who are not happy with the proposed report are unhappy because it exposes them. And they have sought the removal of the chairman. It’s like saying that if you don’t like the judgment, remove the judge”.
On the issue of whether a vote within the JPC could become imperative, Mr. Kamal Nath said, “There is no convention to vote; these are senior members and they understand the implications of voting and will act accordingly.” The JPC could not meet on Thursday as scheduled. It is now expected to meet early next week.
Keywords: P.C. Chacko, 2G spectrum scam, Joint Parliamentary Committee, JPC on 2G, Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram, Finance Ministry note, telecom ministry, A. Raja, JPC report leak, NDA, UPA, first-come-first-serve policy