Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Let Manmohan Singh appear before the Public Accounts Committee

For reasons best known to himself, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Murali Manohar Joshi, seems to be open to considering the prime minister Manmohan Singh's offer to appear before the PAC and answer all questions on his role, if any, in the Rs.1.76 lac crore telecom 2G spectrum scam. The PAC is deliberating upon the report on the scam recently submitted to Parliament by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. Joshi's approach is at variance with the stand so far adopted by the combined opposition that the PAC can only go into the accounting aspects of the scam and that it is the Joint Parliamentary Committee which is the right body to scrutinise deeply all aspects, including the responsibility and culpability of various political authorities, of this unprecedented scam.

Suppose, in order to hit back at his old adversary within the BJP, L.K. Advani, or as a screaming protest against his isolation in the party, Joshi overrides the opposition of all other members of the PAC and tells the prime minister to appear before the committee, not all is going to be lost. The other members of the committee should start preparing for that eventuality right now and when it is the time for Manmohan Singh to face them they should pose to him all their probing questions which in normal course they would have asked him had the UPA government agreed to appoint a JPC. He will have to give comprehensive answers and in the process will be forced to reveal the part he played or was made to play in permitting the scam to become a reality. If, on the other hand, he decides to be less than forthright he will be exposing himself to public ridicule, much bigger than he has had to suffer so far.

And of course, the prime minister's tete-a-tete with the PAC can not stop the opposition from continuing to demand a JPC.

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