PAC in yet another controversy

Sparks flew at a PAC meeting headed by senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday with a number of members raising questions over the appointment of a senior BJD member as a convener of a non-significant sub-committee. PTI file photo

Parliament's audit watchdog the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is yet again in a controversy with questions being raised over the delay in forming sub-committees.

Sparks flew at a PAC meeting headed by senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday with a number of members raising questions over the appointment of a senior Biju Janata Dal (BJD) member as a convener of a non-significant sub-committee, which was constituted for the first time in the PAC.

B Mahtab of BJD had on June 4 shot off an angry letter to the PAC chairman expressing surprise on the constitution of a sub-committee on ‘excesses over voted grants and charged appropriations’ saying “either you are ignorant or somebody has misled you relating to the formation of this committee.”

Mahtab also took objection to Kharge not constituting an adequate number of sub-committees to expedite the work of PAC and reminded him that all previous chairmen of the panel did this and did not find it uncomfortable.

Unlike previous PACs, which had five to six committees, Kharge has so far constituted only two sub-committees. The sub-committee on defence, which had during previous PACs courted controversy, was not set up this time.

Besides, some members also objected that the main committee of the PAC did not adopt two reports — one on the purchase of Bofors gun and another one on the 80:20 gold import scheme during the UPA regime. Mahtab had submitted the critical report on Bofors deal whereas Nishikant Dubey-led committee had sought probe into the 80:20 gold scheme.

Apparently sensing controversy, Kharge had a one-to-one meeting with Mahtab before the scheduled PAC meeting on Wednesday. However, even as Kharge assured Mahtab to resolve the issue amicably, panel members raised the issue again after the scheduled meeting.

BJP MPs Shiv Kumar Chanabasappa  Udasi, Anurag Singh Thakur, Janardan Singh Sigriwal and Shiromani Akali Dal's Prem Singh Chandumajra asked why the particular sub-committee has been set up and why other sub-committees are not being constituted.

When a Congress member Bhubaneswar Kalita rose to Kharge’s defence saying how MPs will be able to pay attention to their constituency work if so many sub-committees are formed?

Mahtab countered Kalita and asked, why being a Rajya Sabha MP is he raising the issue?

Controversies are not new to the PAC. In January last year, Dubey had moved a privilege motion against the then PAC chairman and Congress leader K V Thomas.

Earlier also there have been showdowns between members of the Congress and the BJP during hearings of the 2G, coal blocks allotment and CWG issues.

In 2010 and 2011, a controversy had dogged the PAC when its then chairman Murli Manohar Joshi made attempts to push through a controversial report on the 2G scam.

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PAC in yet another controversy

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