Manmohan cannot choose forum where he will appear: Jaitley

It is a “defensive Prime Minister” who is forced to say he has nothing to hide in the 2G spectrum issue and an even more “defensive Congress party,” which has devoted its time and energy at the Burari plenary to talking about the main Opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party said on Monday.

“This is a matter of satisfaction to us,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said here, noting that the ruling party had devoted more time to talking about the BJP at its plenary session, held to celebrate 125 years of its existence, than dwelling on its own strategy for the coming months and years. “It seems the Congress is suffering from BJP phobia.”

It was not often that a Prime Minister was forced to say “I have nothing to hide” and add “Caesar's wife must be above suspicion” and, therefore, he was more than willing to present himself before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is looking at the CAG report on the 2G spectrum allocation.

If he had nothing to hide, Dr. Singh could come up with the truth before a Joint Parliamentary Committee, the formation of which the Opposition has been demanding. “It would be immaterial where and on which forum he chooses to come out with the truth. He cannot choose the forum, where he will present himself,” Mr. Jaitley said. “Caesar's wife was not allowed to have her say.”

Rejecting the Congress stand that a JPC could do nothing more than what was already being done by various investigation agencies, Mr. Jaitley said questions had been raised (as a result of the leaked Radia tapes) about the manner in which certain coalition parties wanted a certain portfolio and the way it was handed out to a specific person for whom corporate lobbyists were at work. He was referring to the Communications portfolio being given to the DMK and to A. Raja, specifically for which Niira Radia had lobbied hard.

Those were questions the PAC could neither ask nor get answers, but a JPC was empowered to probe these issues that were bothering the people at large, Mr. Jaitley said.

The BJP leader said the Prime Minister was “personally liable” and owed an explanation on the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner (despite a note of dissent from Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha) and for “subversion” of the Central Bureau of Investigation. Moreover, nothing was done for three years, after it became common knowledge that scarce spectrum had been given away cheaply. Mr. Raja continued to hold sway over the Ministry and in 2009 he was once again allotted the portfolio, Mr. Jaitley said.

Silent on corruption

However, the BJP remained silent on the Congress barbs that it was unable to check corruption in Karnataka while crying itself hoarse on the subject. Also, Mr. Jaitley refused to say anything to a question whether the BJP was unhappy that the PAC was going ahead full steam looking at the 2G spectrum case and had even asked its chairman, Murli Manohar Joshi, to slow down.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 9:13:55 AM |

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