Bulldozing tactics

Prime minister Manmohan Singh’s solemn assurance to the nation that his government was ready for a transparent investigation into the 2G spectrum scandal and that “no guilty person would be spared,” is beginning to sound hollow when one looks at the Congress MPs’ behaviour at the sittings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Initially, the UPA government was very much in favour of the PAC inquiring into the 2G scam. But once parliament forced the government to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), the Congress changed its stand abruptly and wanted PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi to drop the matter altogether. In the last few days, the Congress and the DMK members not only disrupted the functioning of the PAC and prevented senior government officials from deposing before it, but on Thursday, took the unprecedented step of ‘ousting’ Joshi from PAC chairmanship with the help of SP and BSP MPs and ‘electing’ Saifuddin Soz as the new chairman.

Joshi perhaps anticipated the ruling click’s hostility to any adverse comments from the PAC and the draft report on 2G scam was leaked to the media. Whoever might have been behind the leak, Joshi will have to take the blame for the breach of protocol of first submitting the report to the Speaker and placing it before parliament. But, this lapse apart, there is no denying that the report lays bare the shenanigans which went into scandalous allocation of 2G spectrum to a select few companies which caused the loss of thousands of crores of rupees to the exchequer. The report directly puts the blame on the prime minister and his office and then finance minister P Chidambaram for failing to prevent then telecom minister R Raja from concluding extremely dubious deals, despite having sufficient warnings about the organised loot happening under their very noses. The report points out that five days after the deals were signed, Chidambaram wrote a note on January 15, 2008, acknowledging that spectrum is a scarce resource and its price should be based on its scarcity value, but went on to suggest that “the matter be treated as closed.”

The removal of Joshi as PAC chairman — the first of its kind in the last 62 years — shows the utter contempt the UPA government has for parliamentary democracy. Now it is up to the Speaker to intervene and restore PAC’s credibility. If the UPA government thinks that it can bulldoze its way on the scam, it will be sadly mistaken.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry