Chaos in PAC meet, 2G draft report rejected

New Delhi: 11 MPs, including one each from SP and BSP, of the 21-member PAC on Thursday "rejected" the draft report on 2-G scam that indicted former Telecom Minister A Raja and made critical comments on the Prime Minister and the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

In unprecedented scenes at a stormy meeting of the committee, the ruling coalition MPs (7 Congress, 2 DMK), aided by SP and BSP, "elected" Congress member Saifuddin Soz as chairman who put the resolution for rejection of the report to vote.

The `election` took place once Joshi had left the meeting after Soz moved a resolution seeking a vote on the adoption of the draft report.

In the "vote" that took place after the nine members belonging to opposition parties (BJP, JD(U), BJD and AIDMK) had left, 11 members rejected the report, Soz claimed.

"I will now present the whole proceedings to the Speaker for her decision," he told reporters.

Soz said in a democracy when situations are created then such things (election) happen.

A Congress MP V Arun Kumar said the election of Soz was for this meeting, which was the second session of the proceedings convened by Joshi to discuss the draft report.

In more drama, Soz later went to Joshi`s office and handed over the "resolution" rejecting the report to his staff. He said he would apprise the Speaker of the developments in the meeting.

Joshi himself told reporters after adjourning the meeting that the ruling side members said that the draft report was "outsourced".

"I wanted to say something but they did not allow me. So I adjourned the meeting," he said.

However, Congress members claimed that Joshi was not prepared to listen to them and "ran away".

Another opposition MP said the Congress MPs demanded that Joshi resign and did not allow him to conduct the meeting.

In the first session, after three hours of deliberations, Joshi found the going tough and adjourned the proceedings till 4 PM.

During the morning session, the 11 MPs gave in writing rejecting the report and demnding a vote. They spoke against the draft report alleging malafide intentions behind it. BJP MP Yashwant Sinha defended Joshi.

Soz` resolution read, "I move that the draft report on recent developments in the allocation of 2-G and 3-G Spectrum circulated by chairman be rejected." He moved it the moment the post-lunch session started.

In case of lack of consensus in Committee meetings, rules of procedure and conduct of business in Lok Sabha provide that all questions at any sittings of the Committee shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting.

The draft report indicts the Prime Minister and the PMO for giving an "indirect green signal" to Raja for going ahead with his policies.

It also attacked the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram for recommending to the Prime Minister to "treat the matter as closed" instead of taking action against those responsible for loss to the exchequer.

The voluminous report had some unpleasant words for Singh, who had kept his office at "arm`s length" in 2G spectrum issue which helped Raja "to execute his unfair, arbitrary and dubious designs".

During the meeting, UPA members expressed concern over leakage of the draft report. Congress and DMK members demanded voting to decide whether the report should be submitted to Lok Sabha.

The meeting began with members cutting across party lines discussing the leakage of the draft report which was circulated to the Parliamentary Committee by Chairperson Murli Manohar Joshi. Some members said this was a matter of ethics and suggested that CBI should investigate it.

Sources said though there were major differences between members the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. Joshi reportedly gave each member the opportunity to express his views.

The strength of the two sides is delicately balanced in the 21-member committee which has seven representatives from the Congress, four from BJP, two each from AIADMK and DMK, and one each from Shiv Sena, BJD, JD(U), SP, BSP and CPI(M).

Rules state that in case of all financial reports if the majority in the committee decides against presentation of the report to the Speaker, the Chairperson has to go by this decision.

The Congress and DMK had yesterday attacked Joshi over the report and demanded his resignation, alleging that he was trying to destabilise the government.

The controversial distribution of licences and spectrum was taken by the DMK representative in the Cabinet on January 10, 2008, which the CAG had estimated a presumptive revenue loss of over Rs 1.76 lakh crore.