The NDA members here on Tuesday foiled the attempt of Joint Parliamentary Committee Chairman P C Chacko to avoid calling politicians,including former Telecom ministers,for recording their evidence in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation scam and other related matters.
A JPC meeting,convened by Chacko to secure the panels nod for starting preparation of the report and send for witnesses for filling in the blanks,saw heated arguments between the UPA and NDA members. Chackos move implied that officials from the CBI,Enforcement Directorate,Finance and Telecom ministries will be called before the JPC to fine-tune the draft.
While Opposition members insisted that the committee summon PMO officials,Home Minister P Chidambaram and former Telecom minister A Raja,those from the ruling coalition retaliated by suggesting that the panel send for Brajesh Mishra and N K Singh,key aides of Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his prime ministership,besides the Telecom ministers under him.
There being no understanding between the two sides,Chacko is likely to present an exhaustive list of witnesses at the next meeting and then let the members decide. However,this is sure to upset Chackos plan to start preparation of the list and present it to Parliament by the end of the winter session. The two sides had come prepared for the showdown because Chacko had announced after the June 5 meeting that the committee would not examine anymore witnesses. Chacko had conceded that while members had suggested many other names,he did not plan calling a long list of witnesses because our experience of one year is that we will not be able to complete a long list. Two weeks ago Chacko had said that the committee already possessed all important files regarding important decisions. It may not be important now to call those people who took the decisions,he had argued.
Trouble erupted as soon as Chacko told the members on Tuesday that the committee,which had got two extensions,should start preparing its report so that members could discuss the draft from September onwards. BJP members,particularly Yashwant Sinha,demanded that the JPC examine Raja,Chidambaram,PMs advisor T K A Nair and PMs Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterji.
Manish Tewari of the Congress countered Sinhas demand by suggesting that the panel summon Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj,Jagmohan and Arun Shourie Telecom ministers in the NDA regime. Unfazed by this,Sinha and Jaswant Singh,both former Finance ministers,said the ruling alliance members could go ahead with this. On their part,both said that they could quit the JPC and depose before it.