Friday, April 29, 2011

Majority rejects PAC draft report, Joshi walks out

Neena Vyas
Chaotic scenes; coalition MPs say the draft was “outsourced”

RUCKUS: PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi speaks to reporters after a meeting of the committee in New Delhi on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: After accusations and counter-accusations through unprecedented chaotic scenes at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) here on Thursday, 11 of its 21 members recorded their “vote” to “reject” the draft report on 2G scam circulated to the members by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on Wednesday.

The majority that voted to reject the report said they intended to send recorded rejection slips to the Speaker as well as PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi.

However, Dr. Joshi later said as he “adjourned the meeting” to give himself “time to examine the allegations of some members that the report was outsourced and there were discrepancies,” the so-called recorded “vote” was invalid and illegal.

Sources close to Dr. Joshi said he could still sign the report and submit it to the Speaker, who would then take a call on the issue.

The Bharatiya Janata Party had expected to be on the side of the majority view in the committee and Dr. Joshi perhaps thought he could get the draft report adopted. However, one member each from the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, who had maintained a stoic silence, supported the Congress in rejecting the draft report.

At the very outset, in the morning, seven Congress members, two from the DMK and the members of the SP and the BSP (both supporting the ruling UPA coalition from outside) demanded in writing that the Chair allow a vote to reject the report that had “gross discrepancies” not borne out by recorded facts, and that the report was “outsourced.”

At the post-lunch session that started at 4 p.m., Saifuddin Soz of the Congress moved a resolution seeking the rejection of the draft, and amid chaotic scenes, Dr. Joshi is reported to have walked out, followed by the BJP, AIADMK, Shiv Sena and the Biju Janata Dal members.

The major point of contention then was whether or not Dr. Joshi adjourned the meeting before walking out. The ruling coalition MPs, saying Dr. Joshi did not adjourn the meeting while sitting in the Chair, and to “complete the democratic process that started with the resolution moved by Professor Soz, elected him to take the Chair, only for that session of the meeting.”

The same resolution was then moved by DMK member Tiruchi Siva, and the 11 members, including Professor Soz, individually recorded their “rejection” of the report. They said Dr. Joshi did not give any explanation on why he was not acting on their demand for a vote to be recorded. The ruling coalition MPs said the report was now as good as dead and could no longer be described even as a “draft report” as the majority had rejected it.

The draft report indirectly indicts the Prime Minister and his office for not stopping the sale of licences and spectrum at old prices determined during the NDA regime, when the situation was entirely different.


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