On February 24, while probing the 2G scam, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi had startled the political leadership by saying he could summon the prime minister. This confidence came from PM Manmohan Singh’s offer to depose before the PAC, given in writing earlier. Days after the ruckus created over his draft report on the 2G scam—which was opposed by the majority in the PAC, Joshi tells Outlook he was prepared to summon the prime minister for questioning had it not been for the obstruction and non-cooperation of the UPA members in the PAC. Joshi says the UPA members did not allow the committee to examine the cabinet secretary and the principal secretary to the PM—which was really Joshi’s window to call the PM before the committee. Hinting that there was a larger plan at play to shield the PM from being examined, Joshi says four senior UPA ministers were continuously sending in slips and making phone calls to PAC members on the final day of the meeting—when the report had to be discussed, literally tutoring and orchestrating their ‘dissent’ from the outside. Joshi spoke to Prarthna Gahilote. Excerpts:
Dr Joshi, considering your report indicts the PMO and questions the role it played in the 2G scam, once the PM had offered to depose before the PAC, would it not have been only fair to give him a chance to explain his stand before it?
The window to call the PM was open. If the PAC members had not disrupted proceedings and made a deliberate attempt to stall his examination, if the members had allowed the cabinet secretary, K.M. Chandrasekhar, and the principal secretary to the PM, T.K.A. Nair, to be examined, that could have happened. The chance to question the PM would have come after the committee had examined the PMO officials. Based on their statements, I would have brought before the committee the need to call the PM.
Do you think there was a deliberate attempt to stop the PM from appearing before the committee?
The nation would like to know. The nation would also like to know why the law secretary, D.R. Meena, was heckled when he came to the PAC and why the committee was not allowed to examine the then solicitor-general and current attorney-general, G.E. Vahanvati.
Are you suggesting that there was a larger plan behind this?
Four senior UPA ministers sitting in the Congress office kept sending in slips and calling up members on the final day of the PAC meeting, when the report was to be discussed. A day before, Union parliamentary affairs minister P.K. Bansal and MoS in the PMO V. Narayanaswamy had approached a member, Reoti Raman Singh, and told him, ‘What are you doing with Joshi? You should be with us’. I can’t understand how members can be pressurised like this.
“There’s no question of the Speaker rejecting the draft report. It will be tabled in the House and the government will be on a deadline to act.”
Are there any corrective measures that can be taken?
I have mentioned all of this to the Speaker, Meira Kumar.
What is the road ahead for the draft report? Can the Speaker reject it?
There is no question of it being rejected. It has to be tabled in the House. The government will have to submit an action taken report to the PAC in three months.
How would you describe all the tamasha that happened?
All constitutional experts have termed it unprecedented, undignified, unconstitutional, and against the right of the common man. It’s the common man’s hard-earned money that has been squandered and misused, and when I do my duty as PAC chairman and try to bring the truth out, you make a deliberate attempt to stall any such enquiry. When I am trying to out the truth, you say the report is rejected and thrown into the dustbin. Tomorrow, you will throw Supreme Court judgements into the dustbin.