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2G Scam: PM offers to appear before PAC

Monday December 27, 2010 10:27:53 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: As the opposition continued with its demand for a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum scam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday wrote to parliament's Public Accounts Committee expressing his willingness to appear before it on the issue.


Panel head Murli Manohar Joshi, however, said that the committee would take an "appropriate decision at an appropriate time".

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was not impressed by the prime minister's offer and insisted on its demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe. The Congress hit back, saying the PAC was chaired by a BJP leader and the opposition party should demand a JPC only if it didn't believe in Joshi's abilities.

The prime minister Monday followed on his assurance to the Congress plenary a week ago and wrote to the PAC chairman conveying his willingness to appear before it in connection with the 2G spectrum scandal. He said in his letter that there was no precedent for the prime minister appearing before a PAC, but he was ready to do so.

"To the best of my knowledge, the PAC takes evidence from the secretaries of the departments concerned or the heads of departments or the public sector undertakings," Manmohan Singh wrote in his letter to Joshi.

"However, in view of the recent propaganda that the prime minister is unwilling to be questioned by a parliamentary committee, I would like to inform you that I am willing to appear before the PAC should the committee choose to seek clarifications from the prime minister, though I believe there is no precedent of the prime minister appearing before a PAC," the prime minister wrote.

On the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)'s report into the issue of licences and allocation of 2G spectrum, the prime minister said his office has provided the relevant documents sought by the PAC.

Responding to the prime minister's offer, Joshi said an appropriate decision will be taken.

"An appropriate decision will be taken at an appropriate time depending on the collective wisdom of members," Joshi told mediapersons here after the end of the committee meeting.

CAG Vinod Rai was present at Monday's PAC meeting.

Joshi said it was wrong to say that the CAG had been summoned by the committee. He said CAG was a part of the panel and assists it in its work.

He said at the last meeting the members wanted to understand some finer and technical points of the CAG report, which looked into the 2G spectrum allocation controversy, and these were explained at the meeting Monday.

Joshi said the work of PAC was not tied to CAG report and it can look into any issue relating to misuse of public money.

BJP leaders, who are steadfast in demand of JPC investigation into the 2G spectrum controversy, have maintained that the PAC basically looks into the CAG report.

"Whether government constitutes JPC or not. No comment from PAC," Joshi said. Answering queries, he said if there is a need, the panel will look into the 2G spectrum allocation from 2001.

Joshi said the CAG report had calculated presumptive loss to exchequer from 2G spectrum allocation in three different ways and the committee may decide on one of these models or choose another model.

Answering a query, he said no minister can be called by PAC under the rules unless the speaker gives permission.

Joshi also denied apprehensions that the committee was working at a fast pace on the 2G spectrum issue. He said that PAC had met held meetings in different months.

The government has rejected the opposition's demand for JPC, saying a PAC was looking into it and a multi-level investigation was also being conducted simultaneously.

The BJP, insisting on a JPC probe, said: "Unless there is a JPC, there can't be a conclusion. If the prime minister is clear, why is the government shying away from a JPC," BJP spokesman Syed Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.

Hitting back at the BJP, the Congress said that the PAC was chaired by BJP leader Joshi and the rival party should demand a JPC only if it didn't believe in his abilities.

"Today, the prime minister said he will depose before the PAC...If the BJP doesn't believe in the abilities of Mr. Joshi and the PAC, we can't help," Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.





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