Relenting from their extreme posture of partially or completely boycotting proceedings, BJP members participated in the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) held on Thursday, but remained firm on their demand that the panel summon both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram as witnesses to examine their roles in the allocation of 2G spectrum.
JPC chairman P C Chacko has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of summoning the Prime Minister. However, he has deferred a clear decision on the issue of calling Chidambaram. Left members have taken the same stand as the BJP vis-a-vis Chidambaram, but as far as the Prime Minister is concerned, there is no insistence by them that the committee call him too.
Chacko, sources said, may address the Chidambaram issue at a later date, once the committee is done with the listed witnesses. They include Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati. Even the move for calling Vahanvati had met with stiff resistance from Congress’s Manish Tewari in the past.
Tewari has ceased being a member of the committee following his induction in to the Manmohan Singh Cabinet. The Congress, which is supposed to have a total of 11 people in the 30-member body, is currently three short following the induction of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Shashi Tharoor, apart from Tewari.
BJP members Yashwant Sinha and Ravi Shankar Prasad argued that the PM as well as the Finance Minister needed being examined in the light of the testimony of former Cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar that he had written a note to the Prime Minister on December 4, 2007 suggesting that the licence fee for 2G spectrum allocation be enhanced to Rs 35,000 crore. They contended that they would like to put some questions to the Prime Minister on this count.
Since they did not specify the mode for doing so, it was seen to indicate that they were open to the idea of sending just a questionnaire to the Prime Minister. When a Congress member retaliated by demanding that the committee call former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee too, BJP members said it could, but only if it was prepared to summon the PM.
CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said he wished to know how had the Finance Ministry, which had all along insisted upon an auction of 2G spectrum, decided to go along A Raja, who favoured allocation on a first-come-first-served basis. Who else would answer this