Thomas refuses to quit

Thomas refuses to quit

Central Vigilance Commissioner P J Thomas  has refused to quit voluntarily, despite the Centre sending feelers to him to do so, at least not immediately.

The government has faced severe criticism from several quarters, including the Supreme Court on several occasions, over the last one month for appointing Thomas to the key constitutional position. Therefore, the Centre wanted Thomas to resign of his own volition.

Sources said Thomas, who is facing corruption charges in the palmolein oil import case in Kerala, is of the opinion that resigning at this stage will give an impression that he is indeed guilty.

Also, he has informed government interlocutors, who met him to convey that he should resign, that he would like to wait till February 3 when the Supreme Court takes up the case against him. His advocate K K Venugopal will continue his submissions before the apex court on that day.

On Thursday, Venugopal, arguing for the CVC, wondered why the Kerala government made him chief secretary if he was tainted. Thomas was also parliamentary affairs secretary and Telecom secretary before being made the CVC under controversial circumstances. Thomas apparently indicated to people close to him that he would like to see what “the apex court says” on the issue of his appointment as CVC before taking a call whether to continue in the high post.

Sources said Thomas feels that he has become a “victim of political fight” between the government and the opposition and he has little role in this ongoing tussle. While sending out feelers, the government assured Thomas that he would be appropriately rehabilitated. Thomas was not willing to accept the offer.

The government now hopes that the apex court will quash the appointment of Thomas. The other option is to move impeachment proceedings against him, which will be a time-consuming process. Thomas has done no wrong in the last five months that he is in the post of the country’s senior-most officer in charge of fighting corruption to warrant action against him. He has stayed away from the 2G spectrum allocation scam investigation.

The much-expected Congress core committee meeting on Friday evening did not take place as party president Sonia Gandhi is indisposed and Home Minister P Chidambaram is away in Davos.

The issue of CVC apparently came up for discussion when Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday afternoon after Law Minister M Veerappa Moily called on Mukherjee in the morning. “The issue is sub judice so I don’t want to speak on it,” Moily said after the meeting.

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