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PM rebuffs Sinha's demand for appearance before JPC

PM rebuffs Sinhas demand for appearance before JPC

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday virtually rejected BJP leader Yashwant Sinha’s demand for his appearance before JPC on 2G spectrum case, saying the panel should take a call on it even as he asserted that he had nothing to hide.

Two days after Sinha, a JPC member, wrote to him, Singh responded by saying that all “pertinent” documents related to 2G spectrum allocation of 2008 were available with the JPC.

“The decision as to what evidence should be sought and which individuals should be asked to appear before the JPC is a matter that needs to be decided internally by the JPC and its Chairman,” the Prime Minister said in his letter to Sinha.

Singh underscored that he had said “from the beginning that neither the Government nor I have anything to hide in this matter” related to 2G spectrum allocation.

“You are aware that all pertinent records and documents available with the Government have already been placed at the disposal of the JPC,” he told the BJP leader.

Sinha’s letter to the Prime Minister had triggered a fresh war in JPC with its Chairman P C Chacko yesterday rubbishing the demand as a “political stunt”.

Chacko said Sinha’s letter to the Prime Minister directly asking him to appear before the JPC was against established norms.

Sinha had used former Telecom Minister A Raja’s communication to the JPC to demand that the Prime Minister should appear before the committee to “clear” his name.

The BJP leader had contended that Raja had levelled “serious allegations” against Singh and if he had nothing to hide, he should not hesitate to appear before the JPC.

Raja, who has repeatedly failed to persuade JPC to call him as witness, wrote to the committee last month saying the Prime Minister had been kept in the loop on 2G spectrum allocation.

Slamming Sinha’s action, Chacko said, “How can a member of the JPC write a letter to the Prime Minister? It is for the committee to take a decision. It is only a political stunt and against norms of Parliamentary procedure.”

He said there are five senior BJP members in the JPC and they could raise the issue in the Committee which can take a decision on the matter.

Chacko maintained that Sinha, being a senior politician, knows the rules and he should cooperate with the committee to help produce a good report.

He said the JPC has enough material and documents to draft a report, which is in the final stages.

Questioning Sinha directly writing to the Prime Minister, Chacko said it amounts to denigrating the committee.

Chacko, a Congress leader, said Sinha’s letter has “no relevance” as decisions including calling a minister have to be taken by the committee and “not individuals.”

The JPC Chief contended that even if the committee wants, it cannot call a minister as a witness till a unanimous resolution was passed. “The resolution will then have to be sent to the (Lok Sabha) Speaker who will take a decision.”

He said after completing deposition by witnesses, the JPC members had authorised him to write the draft report. “Once the report is ready, we will meet to discuss it,” he said.

Sinha along with other BJP members had boycotted JPC proceedings last year for some time to press for calling the Prime Minister.

He alleged that, “If Raja presents his side of the story, then the Prime Minister and Finance Minister will be in serious trouble and to save them from this situation the JPC Chairman is not calling Raja.”

Sinha also raised serious objections over not convening of the JPC meeting for two months.

To justify his demand, he said Singh had offered to appear before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) when it was examining 2G scam and he should not hesitate from deposing before JPC.

Rejecting this contention, Chacko said, “Despite the Prime Minister’s willingness to appear before PAC, why was he not called? Sinha ji should ask this question to the PAC Chairman (Murli Manohar Joshi).”

He said the Prime Minister had never offered to appear before the JPC.


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