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Murli Manohar Joshi talks to the media on April 29, 2011

While Rs. 1,760,000,000,000 in money owed to the public has disappeared, the major political groups are trying to pin the blame on each other, not for scamming you and me, but for obstructing proceedings.

IE reported the deadlock in the Public Accounts Committee, where everyone seems to be in the wrong:

A meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, convened to take a final view on its draft report on the 2G scandal, turned into a battlefield today, forcing panel chairman Murli Manohar Joshi to adjourn proceedings.

The Congress-DMK combine, upset over the indictment of former Telecom Minister A Raja and critical observations about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the draft report, held mock proceedings which saw nine UPA members — seven Congress, two DMK — and one each of the SP and BSP opposing adoption of the draft. In effect, 11 from the 21-member committee rejected the report.

Joshi declined to make any comment before April 30 when the present PAC completes its term. But sources close to him said that the entire exercise of voting, after he had adjourned the meeting, amounted to “no proceedings” and there was no question of the report being rejected. As far as Joshi was concerned, the status of the draft report remained intact, sources said.

The voting, conducted with Saifuddin Soz of Congress in the chair, made one thing clear: the ruling party had won over both the SP and BSP members.

In the past the SP and BSP have not become famous for financial impropriety, nor has the Congress been above buying votes. The sheer idiocy of the proceedings is pointed out by TOI:

Split on political lines, the committee meeting on Thursday witnessed noisy interruptions and heated exchanges more befitting of zero hour point-scoring than the bipartisan proceedings of an important parliamentary panel. However, after more than three hours of heated drama and virtually a hand-to-hand combat over rules, the draft’s status remains in limbo, with the Opposition preventing a vote that would have junked the indictments.

The exchanges between the rivals were capped by UPA members “electing” Saifuddin Soz as the chairman in place of Murli Manohar Joshi after the latter did not allow a vote on the controversial report.

The fight will now continue outside the committee with the Opposition looking to ensure that the report is seen as that of the PAC and not as “Joshi’s report” that Congress has rubbished it as. There are indications that PAC chairman Joshi may present the report to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar after her return from Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

Joshi, not the most democratic of ministers during his tenure at the head of the Department of Human Resources two governments ago, nor one who paid much heed to the niceties of the law during the Ayodhya years, seems to have turned a new leaf, if HT is right:

A day after a chaotic meeting of the Parliament’s PAC, its chairperson Murli Manohar Joshi along with NDA, AIADMK, BJD and Left members, are exploring the possibility of submitting the draft report on 2G scam to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, before its term expires on Saturday. Joshi is understood to have held confabulations with members of like minded parties in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday morning and discussed the legal angles relating to his powers as its chairperson.

Sources aware of the developments said that Joshi is busy examining the various rules governing the functioning of the PAC, before he takes a final call on submitting the draft report to the Speaker. A member of the committee pointed out that Joshi was “free” to submit the report to the Speaker’s office even in her absence.

The famously humble Chidambaram also joined the melee, as HT reports:

Home minister P Chidambaram on Friday attacked PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi saying his draft report on his role in 2G spectrum allocation was a “gross distortion” which “deliberately and mischievously” omitted his suggestions on the issue. In a statement, he said that his note to Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh on January 2008 did not deal with the entry fee for 2G spectrum allocation but only usage charges and even a “person with average intelligence would have noticed that”.

Asked at a press conference whether Joshi was a person below average intelligence, he replied with a tinge of sarcasm that he was referring to himself.

“I did not say that. I am talking about persons like me with average intelligence will know. I was referring to myself,” the Minister said.

Asked to respond about BJP leader Yashwant Sinha’s accusation of his “direct complicity” in the 2G controversy, he said “why should I respond.”

Chidambaram was hitting back at Joshi for the critical remarks in the draft report which said that the Committee was shocked and dismayed to note that the Finance Minister in his note had acknowledged that Spectrum is a scarce resource but made a unique and condescending suggestion that the matter be treated [as closed].

The committee viewed it as most unfortunate that the finance minister, the guardian of public exchequer and entrusted with principal task of mobilisation of resources, pleaded for treating the matter as closed instead of initiating stringent and swift actions.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

April 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm

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