Joshi likely to continue as PAC head

 Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi is all set to retain his post of chairperson of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, which has been giving scathing reports against the UPA government, after his tenure as House member gets over by the end of the month.

The 22-member joint parliamentary watchdog panel, interestingly, is going to face elections on May 3 to decide which of the seven MPs from the Rajya Sabha will occupy seats as the term of the PAC is also ending. The remaining 15 MPs are from the Lok Sabha. The term for the panel, which will be the last before the nation goes to the polls, is a year.

The fight in the Upper House for space in the PAC is of much interest given the fact that it would throw up indications of a possible change in political alliances between the parties.

At present, there are seven Rajya Sabha members in the panel: N K Singh from the JD(U), Prakash Javadekar from the BJP, Prasanta Chaterjee from CPM, S C Mishra from the BSP, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy from the Trinamool Congress, Jesudasu Seelam and Prof Saif-ud-din Soz from the Congress.

The PAC composition is decided on the proportional representation of a political party in both the Houses. While the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP get their share of berths – vis-a-vis two out of three seats to the ruling party – a real jostling is expected among the regional players.

Party sources said that while the BSP might hold on to their MP S C Mishra owing to their party’s support being crucial to the UPA’s survival, the contest will be between the JD(U), the TMC and the CPM.

The TMC had got into this committee when it was an ally of the UPA. The JD(U) had, at the same time, managed to sneak into the body through the support of the BJP. It is to be seen whether JD(U) MP N K Singh, who is very close to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, gets the BJP support.

Among the 15 MPs drawn from the Lower House, the leaders have come unopposed to the PAC. The BJP, however, has replaced their MPs – Anant Kumar Dattatreya Hegde from Karnataka and Shripad Yesso Naik from Goa – with Raman Deka from Assam and Sanjay Jaiswal from Bihar. In Congress, Karnataka MP Jai Prakash Hegde is replacing Takam Sanjoy from Arunachal Pradesh.

Of the 62 topics it had selected, the PAC is supposed to give report on many pending issues, including on the CWG scam, “coalgate”, and other demands for grants. The reconstituted PAC, if it decides, can take over the pending topics for completion, besides selecting new ones for examination this year. The panel is expected to meet early next month.

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