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Sep 12, 2009 at 03:21am IST

Jaswant can't be removed as PAC chief: Pranab

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said expelled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh could not be removed as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament unless he was physically incapacitated.

"So far as the rule is concerned, not only the chairman but also members of the standing committees are appointed by the Speaker. There is no provision for removal of a chairman or member unless the person is incapacitated," Mukherjee, a senior parliamentarian, told journalists during an interaction.

The Finance Minister said: "Unless they (chairman and members) are incapacitated, (there is) no way of removing them. And that can only be done by the Speaker, not by members. It is a very unusual situation and we have to find out how this matter is resolved."

FALL FROM GRACE: BJP had nominated Jaswant Singh to the panel, but had asked him to step down after expulsion.

The BJP had nominated Jaswant Singh, an MP from Darjeeling, as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee but subsequently after his expulsion from the party last month, was requested to step down from the post.

A defiant Singh turned this down and even held a meeting of the committee Monday, from which all three BJP members were absent.

Asked if he would intervene, Pranab Mukherjee said: "This is a matter between individuals and decision makers of the BJP. It has to be essentially resolved by the Speaker. If the Speaker seeks my advice or views, then as Leader of House (I) may try to help."

"The Speaker normally nominates (members of the committee) on the advice of political parties. Now, the fact of the matter is, when he (Jaswant Singh) was chosen, the name was given by the BJP," the Finance Minister said, adding that the PAC was the oldest watchdog Parliamentary committee.

Asked about the crisis in the BJP after its defeat in the Lok Sabha elections and then in the wake of Jaswant Singh's book praising Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Mukherjee said: "In political parties, always there are problems. Nothing new. As in individual life we have problems, there are problems in political parties. There are ups and downs."

"At one time, there was only (a) ruling party, no opposition. It happens in a political party's life. I take these developments stoically," Mukherjee said. He added that as a student of history, he had seen the evolution of political parties and the frequent changes in them.

About suggestions that younger leadership should take charge of the BJP, he said: "It is the law of nature. Younger people come forward and older people make way."

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