Jaitley talks tough
While Swaraj, who is Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, had said that the matter should rest after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accepted that appointment of PJ Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner was "an error of judgement", Jaitley and other BJP members maintained that PM needs to explain whether "he was misled or allowed himself to be misled".
After Singh stated the same facts in Rajya Sabha as he did in the Lok Sabha on Friday, the BJP made it clear that it was not content with Singh merely accepting responsibility and said the accountability for the decision lay with him.
"We are completely dissatisfied with the reply of the Prime Minister. There is someone he is trying to shield. This someone appears to be very important for him. He could smuggle the name (of Thomas) in. He could mislead the Prime Minister on pendency of charges against him. But still the PM is not willing to name him," Jaitley said.
In the Rajya Sabha, BJP members had insisted after the Prime Minister answered queries raised by Jaitley, CPM member Sitaram Yechury and CPI`s D Raja that Singh should explain further the issue of accountability for appointing Thomas, against whom the Palmolein import case is pending.
"Obviously, the Prime Minister did not prepare the list (of candidates for the CVC`s post). Then who did?" Jaitley said.
Swaraj appears to have been isolated within her party on this issue. The argument put forth by some BJP leaders that she could not pose queries to the Prime Minister as there is no such provision in the Lok Sabha seems to have convinced few.
Leaders within her party maintained that she could have spoken her mind outside Parliament.
BJP Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad also differed from Swaraj on the issue, maintaining that the Prime Minister merely accepting his responsbility was not enough.
"We had asked the Prime Minister to introspect on the CVC issue…. He has accepted that it was an error of judgement. He has also said his Minister of State had not presented all the facts," BJP Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in Parliament House complex.
Asked if the main opposition wanted that those responsible should be brought to book, Prasad said, "We have already said that accountability should be fixed. He (PM) has accepted his accountability."
Another party spokesperson Tarun Vijay described Singh`s statement in Parliament as "pathetic and naive".
"Perhaps, the Prime Minister was trying to gain sympathy on the issue…. But he could not answer why only one name was suggested by him," Vijay said.
He insisted that the Prime Minister accepting that he was not aware of all the facts does not absolve him.
"Is this the way the Prime Minister`s Office is being run?" Vijay said.
Both the spokespersons are Rajya Sabha members. "I appreciate the statement of the Prime Minister owning responsibility for the appointment of CVC which has been quashed by Supreme Court. I think this is enough. Let matters rest at this and we move forward," Swaraj had said on Twitter on March 4.
However, the next day she sought to downplay the divergent views expressed by her and the party after the Prime Minister owned responsibility for the CVC fiasco, saying there was "no difference" of opinion and blamed limitations of words in twitter for it.
"There is no difference within the party and between me and (Arun) Jaitley on the issue. The demands he (Jaitley) made, the Prime Minister had already spoken about it that he (Singh) will give a statement in Parliament.
"That is why I did not put it on the twitter… There is a constraint in twitter that you have to say things in 140 characters. So I did not put it on twitter," she had told reporters on March 5.