NEW DELHI: Parliament’s public accounts committee descended into chaos on Thursday after the UPA managed to secure the support of BSP and SP to obtain a surprising majority which “rejected” the draft report on the 2G scam that was sharply critical of Prime Minister, his office and others.
Seven Congress MPs, supported by two from the DMK, attacked the Chairman of the 21-member committee and veteran BJP leader, Mr M M Joshi over leakage of the report prepared by him which had made headlines.
The draft report had criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally for his “desire” to keep the PMO at “arm’s length” on the issue of 2G allocation that allowed the then telecom minister, Mr A Raja to execute his “dubious designs” and was also critical of the then finance minister, Mr P Chidambaram and officials of the PMO with regard to handling the scam.
For over three hours, these MPs sought to put the Chairman on the mat, accusing him of presenting a “one-sided” report with “mala fide” intention and demanded his resignation.
These nine MPs found surprise support in one member each of SP and BSP who were expected to go along with rest of the Opposition comprising six of the BJP excluding Mr Joshi and one each from the BJD, the JD-U and the AIADMK.
It was trouble from the word go in the PAC meeting, the last before its term expires on Saturday, with Congress and DMK attacking the draft, with each of them saying it had been prepared by Mr Joshi with a “mala fide” intention of destabilising the government.
The UPA members alleged that Mr Joshi had “outsourced” the drafting of the report.
Mr Joshi, who was keen on pushing the report, sensed trouble but allowed the 11 MPs to have their say but turn.
While he did not react to these allegations, his party colleagues like Mr Yashwant Sinha sought to defend him.
The ruling MPs, who had come with a strategy, insisted in writing that the report be rejected and a vote be taken.
In identical written request, the 11 MPs, including the SP and the BSP, said, “I vote to reject the draft report circulated by the Chairman, PAC, on recent developments on allocation of 2G and 3G spectrum.”
Finding the going tough, Mr Joshi adjourned the meeting for lunch at around 2 p.m. and fixed the next session at 4 p.m.
As soon as the meeting re-convened, senior Congress leader, Mr Saifuddin Soz moved a resolution demanding that the Chairman’s draft be rejected. He pressed for a vote on it and was supported by other MPs from Congress and DMK as also from the SP and BSP.
There was pandemonium as both sides exchanged heated words and the meeting ended abruptly within a few moments.
While Mr Joshi claimed that he had “adjourned” the meeting as there was “no order”, UPA members said the Chairman had “walked out” and “run away”. Along with him, Opposition members also left the hall.
In unprecedented dramatic scenes, 11 members of the UPA and BSP and SP held their own meeting and “elected” Mr Soz as their “Chairman for the sitting”. They also “unanimously” passed the “resolution” rejecting the draft report.