Thursday, April 28, 2011

2G probe: Final meeting of PAC today

By punemsexesena-New Delhi: Against the backdrop of sharp divisions within it, Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by BJP’s MM Joshi is slated to meet on Thursday to finalise its draft r
eport on the 2G spectrum scam.

The panel is due to submit its report this month since its term expires on April 30. Reports claim that today’s meeting has been convened to discuss and possibly take up adoption of the report on 2G, a move which has created sharp divisions among the members of the PAC.

The PAC, in a draft report on 2G scam, yesterday indicted former telecom minister A Raja and came down heavily on the PMO and the Cabinet Secretariat for not taking "corrective action" while not sparing even the Prime Minister for "some unfortunate omissions".

The report circulated by PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi is also understood to have attacked the then finance minister P Chidambaram for recommending to the Prime Minister to "treat the matter as closed" instead of taking action against those responsible for loss to the exchequer.

The voluminous report reportedly had some unpleasant words for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had kept his office at "arm's length" in 2G spectrum issue which helped Raja "to execute his unfair, arbitrary and dubious designs".

However, the draft report has created a political storm in the establishment and is being contested by members of the ruling UPA in parliamentary panel.

Sources also say that infuriated Congress and DMK members have even started contacting SP and BSP members for support in case they press for a voting on the adoption of PAC’s finding.

Interestingly, the PAC has seven members from the Congress, four from BJP, two each from AIADMK and DMK, and one each from the Shiv Sena, BJD, JD(U), SP, BSP and CPI (M).

Once the report is adopted either unanimously or through majority, the Chairman has the right to present it to the Speaker if Parliament is not in session. It could be done before or on April 30 also.

The Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), who have aired their displeasure and went vocal with their objections to the draft report, have sought the resignation of PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi, for acting with a ‘malafide intention”.

Congress members feel that the PAC report should not bring the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) within its purview and should avoid definitive conclusions about its role in the spectrum allocation.

The report attacked Home Minister P Chidambaram for advising the PM to close the matter even after it became clear that there were irregularities in the allocation of spectrum “instead of initiating stringent and swift action” against those responsible.

While PMO said it would react only after the report comes out, Chidambaram told a private news channel, “Is this the finding of the PAC or BJP leader Joshi?”

Experts feel that the public airing of the differences within PAC will be damaging to Indian democracy and its institutions, especially at a time when there is a question on the credibility of the government and the political class.

Singh and his United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government have been mired in a series of corruption charges and controversies ever since it returned to power in the 2009 general election.

Hours after Joshi internally distributed the 300-page draft report on PAC’s investigation into the 2G scam, members belonging to the Congress and the DMK held a news conference to allege that Joshi had prepared the draft with intent to destabilize the Congress-led government
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