New Delhi: Joint Parliamentary Committee Chairman PC Chacko has hit back at Bharatiya Janata Party leader for his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the 2G scam. Chacko has said, "Yashwant Sinha's letter to the Prime Minister is a political stunt and against norms."
"How can a member of the JPC write a letter to the Prime Minister? It is for the committee to take a decision. It is only a political stunt and against norms of Parliamentary procedure," Chacko told PTI responding to Sinha's letter to Singh asking him to appear before the panel to clear his name. He said Sinha's letter has "no relevance" as decisions including calling a minister have to be taken by the committee and "not individuals."
When pointed that Sinha has asked the Prime Minister to volunteer himself as a witness before JPC, Chacko said, "even if the Prime Minister wants he cannot appear before the JPC. That's the norm which applies to all of us." The JPC chief said Sinha cannot cite the example of the Prime Minister's willingness to appear before Public Accounts Committee when it was examining the CAG report on 2G scam. "Despite the Prime Minister's willingness to appear before PAC, why was he not called? Sinha ji should ask this question to the PAC Chairman (Murli Manohar Joshi)," he said.
Chacko contended that even if the JPC wants, it cannot call a minister as a witness till a unanimous resolution was passed. "The resolution will then have to be sent to the (Lok Sabha) Speaker who will take a decision." He said after completing deposition by witnesses, the committee members had authorised him to write the draft report. "Once the report is ready, we will meet to discuss it," he said.
This came as Yashwant Sinha hit out at Chacko again on Tuesday for not calling former telecom minister A Raja to depose. Sinha has demanded that former telecom minister A Raja be called to depose as he is equally culpable as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the 2G case.
"Raja has written to the JPC to say that if he is guilty, so are the PM and the FM. Raja's testimony will cause a lot of problems for both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, that is why he isn't being called by the JPC," Yashwant Sinha said.
The Congress also hit back saying that the JPC can take its own call. "I haven't read Yashwant Sinha's letter. There are BJP members in the JPC, they can put their views before the JPC themselves. The PM has nothing to do with the JPC. The JPC can take its own decisions," Congress leader rashid Alvi said.
Earlier on Monday, Sinha wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to appear before the JPC. Citing former Telecom Minister A Raja's communication to JPC, Sinha asked PM Manmohan Singh to appear before the committee to 'clear his name' following allegations levelled against him.
In his letter, Sinha said any hesitation on his part to appear before JPC will prove that he has "something to hide". Sinha pointed out that when Parliament's Public Accounts Committee was examining the CAG report on the 2G scam, the Prime Minister had publicly offered to appear before it to enable the committee reach the "right conclusions".
"You have not made a similar offer to the JPC despite the fact that many members of the JPC have publicly demanded that you appear before the JPC," Sinha said. He claimed that in his communications to the JPC, Raja has levelled "serious allegations" against the Prime Minister and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
"I think it is in your own personal interest to appear before the JPC and clear your name. You may also suggest the Finance Minister to make a similar offer," he wrote. Sinha asked the Prime Minister to request JPC Chairman PC Chacko to call Raja as a witness before the committee. "Any hesitation on your part will only confirm the feeling that you have something to hide," the BJP leader said.
(With additional information from PTI)