"Home Minister P Chidambaram's briefing has only confirmed the position that Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had taken as regards the meeting on CVC. A detailed discussion indeed took place on the Palmolein case and the chargesheet against P J Thomas," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Chidambaram today said the Selection Committee meeting to choose the Central Vigilance Commissioner in September last year did discuss the issue of Palmolein case against Thomas.
"We did discuss the names of the panel. In fact, the bulk of the time (of discussion) was regarding P J Thomas and Palmolein case. She (Swaraj) made her points, the other members (PM and HM) of the Committee made their points," the Home Minister said.
Chidambaram's remarks came against the backdrop of Attorney General G E Vahanvati's contention in the Supreme Court last week that details of the chargesheet pending against Thomas were not placed before the selection panel.
Another BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Chidambaram's statement proves the culpability of the Prime Minister in the case.
"The culpability lies with the PM "who chose to appoint such a person as the CVC while the facts were brought to his knowledge," Rudy said.He expressed shock at Thomas continuing in office despite these revelations and demanded that Singh dismiss him.
"If the prime minister has to vindicate his position, the dignitiy of the Supreme Court has to be kept, the dignity of the institution of the CVC has to be kept, the Prime Minister should act to sack the CVC otherwise his culpability is without doubt," Rudy said.
Sitharaman insisted that Swaraj had brought to the notice of the Prime Minister and Chidambaram the case pending against Thomas and suggested that any of the other two names in the panel could be chosen for the CVC's post.
She said when the government remained adamant on choosing Thomas, Swaraj was "constrained" to give in writing that she disagreed with the choice.
"BJP feels its stand has been vindicated. The issue was discussed widely. Government indeed knew of the case pending and Thomas being part of the chargesheet and his name not being cleared," Sitharaman said.
She maintained that Swaraj had so far stayed away from filing any case on the issue but now when the court has taken cognizance of the matter, she has chosen to file an affidavit.
"We are shocked and surprised that the Prime Minister and his team had preferred to ignore the objection raised by Sushma Swaraj. The feigning of ignorance establishes the culpability of the Prime Minister," Rudy said.