Saturday, April 16, 2011

Squabble in PAC pleases Congress

It is a general practice that members of a parliamentary committee, whatever their party affiliation, usually stand up for the privileges of the commitee on which they are servind. But the stiff opposition put by the Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagan (DMK) of the PAC against the commitee calling in officials of the prime minister's office (PMO) as part of their scrutiny of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the 2G spectrum allocation issue was odd, to say the least.
The expectation was that it will be a clash between the joint parliamentary committee (JPC, set up to probe all aspects of the 2G spectrum allocation scam. JPC chairpman P.C.Chacko had already fired off a letter to PAC chief Murli Manohar Joshi asking the PAC to stay away from the general aspects of the spectrum issue, and confine itself to the specifics mentioned in the CAG report. Apparently, Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar has asked the two committees to sort out the issues of jurisdcition and overlap amicably. The confrontation between the committees and its resolution still remains in the future.
Right now, it is the unseemly spectacle of the intra-committee differences that mars the situation. Congress sources are enjoying the situation and one of them has said, “We told you so. This was bound to happen.” He has denied that all parliamentary committees enjoy parity and the PAC enjoys no precedence.
He has also said that the PAC itself need not have probed the 2G spectrum issue because the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was already probing it, the Supreme Court was monitoring, and the government had appointed a panel headed by former Supreme Court justice Shivraj Patil to look into the administrative lapses with regard to decision-making in the department of telecommunications.
It is clear that the Congress party and the government would only be too happy for differences in the committees and between the committees to have their full play, as that would – the party hopes -- would deflect attention from the spectrum scandal.

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