JPC stalemate lingers as Chacko rejects BJP demand on PM

JPC stalemate lingers as Chacko rejects BJP demand on PM

The stalemate in the JPC probing the 2G spectrum allocation continued Thursday as panel chief P.C. Chacko's virtual rejection of the BJP demand to call Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram as witnesses led to the party members staying away from its meeting again.

Chacko, a senior Congress MP, told reporters here that Speaker Meira Kumar, to whom he had written last week seeking an opinion on calling ministers as witnesses, too had asked the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to first arrive at a decision on the matter before she gives her ruling on the subject.

"If I was to call them (prime minister and finance minister) as witnesses, it would have happened by now. There is no question of calling the prime minister, as there is no precedent. With regard to the ministers, if there is an unanimous decision, we will call them," he said after a daylong meeting of the JPC in which former cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar deposed.

He said the JPC will meet again at a later date to consider this issue and arrive at a decision.

"It is always good if there is an unanimous decision. If there is no unanimity, there has to be a majority decision," he said on calling the ministers before the panel.

To a query on convincing the six BJP members to return to the meeting, the Congress MP said all his efforts till now had failed in this regard.

Regarding the letter written by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on the matter, Chacko said he had already replied to every point raised by him on the list of witnesses.

Sinha and his five party colleagues have been away wanting Chacko to finalise the witnesses list and to take a decision on calling the prime minister and finance minister to depose.

The JPC chief said that the panel functioned as per rules and regulations that apply to any other parliamentary committee and that neither the prime minister nor the ministers could be summoned under these.

"If the committee felt it should question the ministers, then the matter could be referred to the speaker, who can then take a call on having the ministers before the panel. But as of now, the speaker felt that it is premature for her to take a decision before the committee decides on the matter," he noted.

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