Jaswant likely to retain PAC chair

Jaswant likely to retain PAC chair

Speaker to wait for BJP statement

Addressing a group of women journalists here, Kumar made it clear that rules would be followed on the issue. “I have not received any letter from the BJP as yet... Let the issue formally come to me,” she said.

Kumar said the speaker has the discretion to remove the PAC chairman if he is unable to perform, but “there are definite rules”. “We follow those rules. The rule says that if for any reason he or she is unable to perform... I will have to apply myself. Let it come to me,” she said.

The post of the PAC chairperson generally goes to the senior-most member of the Opposition party. According to rules, Singh can voluntarily quit from the post but the party cannot seek his removal since the appointment has already been made. The party cannot ask the speaker to do anything after the appointment, but the chairman has the “full freedom” to resign voluntarily.

Late Prime Minister Chandrashekhar was the chairman of the Ethics Committee and was unwell for long but the then Speaker did not replace him.

On her experience as the first woman speaker of the country, Kumar said she was satisfied that Parliament had worked overtime but there was a need to ensure at least 100 sittings of Parliament in a year. “This time I am very happy that 296 members are new and out of them a large number are young faces,” she said adding that this is also the first time that there are such a large number of women MPs.

She also argued for more questions asked during the Question Hour. “The average is 3.34 per day, I would be very happy if it is increased to at least six,” she said.  She also refused to adhere to the view that the MPs were not serious about their work. “This perception is not right as I have seen them working. The MPs sat extra for 30 hours in this session,... we can improve on this”.

On her predecessor Somnath Chatterjee being expelled from his party for defying its whip, Kumar said: “My predecessor was a man of stature and he had the courage of conviction. What is required from a speaker is neutrality”.