BJP MPs boycott meeting of JPC on 2G spectrum issue

New Delhi: BJP members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee examining the 2G spectrum issue today boycotted the meeting of the panel in protest against Chairman P C Chacko's refusal to accede to their demand to summon the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister.

The six BJP members in the JPC- Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh, Gopinath Munde, Harin Pathak, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Dharmendra Pradhan- did not attend the meeting held here today. They had staged a walkout in the last session when Chacko had refused to discuss their demand for calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

Sinha has also written a strongly worded letter on behalf of the BJP members to Chacko to register his party's protest. The party has alleged that Chacko is acting in an 'autocratic' and 'non-democratic' manner.

The letter maintains that in a meeting in July, the main opposition had demanded that the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister be summoned.

"In this meeting, as well as in the meetings of the Committee we have strongly demanded that in order to arrive at the right conclusions, the Committee must record the evidence of the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. Their appearance before the Committee, in view of their role in the decision making process is absolutely necessary," Sinha said.

The letter further states that there are questions which "they and they alone can answer".

But it is the attack on Chacko's style and manner of functioning which forms the larger part of the letter.

"You have been avoiding taking a decision on this issue for reasons best known to you. When we tried to raise this issue once again in the meeting of September 18, you behaved in a totally non-democratic, in fact, in an autocratic fashion and did not allow some of my colleagues and me to even raise the issue," Sinha said.

He described this behaviour of Chacko as "shocking in the extreme" and said this left BJP members with no option but to stage a walkout from that meeting.

Sinha also expressed BJP's ire over Chacko's statements in the media that the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister would not be called as witnesses before the Committee.

He said that BJP has no objection to any former minister of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government from being called as a witness before the Committee, including those who are members of the JPC.

"Similarly, the ministers of the UPA government, including the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, must also be called as witnesses. Your prevarication on this issue only confirms our suspicion that you have no intention of doing so," Sinha said.

The BJP MP said that it is "erroneous" for Chacko to carry the impression that he has been authorised by the Committee to take a final decision in the matter.

"You have only been authorised to finalise a shorter list of witnesses and place it before the Committee for a final decision," the letter said.

Other grievances of the BJP members which have been aired in the letter are that the issue of drawing up the list of witnesses has been pending for over three months now, that today's meeting has been called at short notice, and that 20 days have elapsed since the last meeting yet no progress has been made in finalising the list.

Sinha has forwarded a copy of the letter to Lok Sabha Speaker for "information and necessary action at her end".