Now, Chacko seeks Speaker view on calling PC as witness

With the BJP skipping the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) meeting Thursday, chairman P C Chacko decided to refer the party's demand for calling Finance Minister P Chidambaram as a witness in the 2G scam to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. Chacko, however, rejected the demand for calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a witness.

In a letter to Chacko, sent on behalf of the six BJP members in the committee, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha said: "There is no point in our attending the meetings of the committee unless you take this all-important decision (of calling the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister) at the earliest."

Alleging that Chacko was acting in an autocratic and undemocratic manner, Sinha added: "You have been avoiding taking a decision on this issue for reasons best known to you."

Besides Sinha, the other BJP members in the committee are Jaswant Singh, Gopinath Munde, Harin Pathak, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Dharmendra Pradhan.

Speaking to mediapersons, Chacko said only the BJP had demanded that the Prime Minister be summoned as a witness. "Even the CPI and CPM said they did not want to call the PM, only the FM... it is a political demand... the BJP knows the rules do not permit this."

He said although Rule 99(1) of parliamentary rules and procedures do not permit a committee to summon a minister, there are two precedents of the chair allowing it. Therefore, he said, he had decided to seek the Speaker's opinion.

Meanwhile, CPI member Gurudas Dasgupta walked out of the meeting today after a tiff with Congress member Shashi Tharoor. He was questioning Sindhushree Khullar, former additional secretary in the department of economic affairs in the Finance Ministry, when he took offence to Tharoor interjecting. "I walked out as defending a witness when she is deposing before a committee is against the procedure laid by the rule book," said Dasgupta.

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