New Delhi: Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) descended into chaos on Thursday after the UPA managed to secure the support of BSP and SP to obtain a surprising majority which ‘rejected’ the draft report on the 2G scam that was sharply critical of Prime Minister, his office and others.

Seven Congress MPs, supported by two from DMK, attacked the Chairman of the 21-member committee and veteran BJP leader M M Joshi over leakage of the report prepared by him which had made headlines.

The draft report had criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally for his ‘desire’ to keep the PMO at ‘arm's length’ on the issue of 2G allocation that allowed the then Telecom Minister A Raja to execute his ‘dubious designs’ and was also critical of the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram and officials of the PMO with regard to handling the scam.

For over three hours, these MPs sought to put the Chairman on the mat, accusing him of presenting a ‘one-sided’ report with ‘malafide’ intention and demanded his resignation.

These nine MPs found surprise support in one member each of SP and BSP who were expected to go along with rest of the Opposition comprising 6 of BJP excluding Joshi and one each from BJD, JD (U) and AIADMK.

The UPA members alleged that Joshi had ‘outsourced’ the drafting of the report.
Joshi, who was keen on pushing the report, sensed trouble but allowed the 11 MPs to have their say but turn While he did not react to these allegations, his party colleagues like Yashwant Sinha sought to defend him.

The ruling MPs, who had come with a strategy, insisted in writing that the report be rejected and a vote be taken.

In identical written request, the 11 MPs, including SP and BSP, said, "I vote to reject the draft report circulated by the Chairman, PAC, on recent developments on allocation of 2G and 3G spectrum."

Finding the going tough, Joshi adjourned the meeting for lunch at around 2 PM and fixed the next session at 4 PM.

As soon as the meeting re-convened, senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz moved a resolution demanding that the Chairman's draft be rejected. He pressed for a vote on it and was supported by other MPs from Congress and DMK as also from the SP and BSP.

There was mayhem as both sides exchanged heated words and the meeting ended abruptly within a few moments.

While Joshi claimed that he had adjourned the meeting as there was no order, UPA members said the Chairman had ‘walked out’ and ‘ran away’. Along with him, Opposition members also left the hall.

In unprecedented dramatic scenes, 11 members of the UPA and BSP and SP held their own meeting and "elected" Soz as their "Chairman for the sitting". They also "unanimously" passed the "resolution" rejecting the draft report. In the midst of claims and counter claims, there was further drama when Soz went to Joshi's office in Parliament House and left in office the "resolution" that was "passed".

Congress MPs claimed that Soz was "elected Chairman" for the proceedings as the Joshi had "run away", not acceding to their request for putting the resolution to vote.

As per the rules, the Chairman of any Financial Committee is appointed by the Speaker and it has to be from a member from Lok Sabha. Soz is a member of the Rajya Sabha.

A visibly agitated Joshi questioned the sanctity of the proceedings after he had "adjourned" the meeting, saying there "cannot be any voting" in the absence of proper proceedings.

Asked to comment on the developments, the veteran BJP leader said these amounted to ‘casting aspersions on the Lok Sabha Secretariat.’

Asked about his next step in the wake of these developments, he said, "I will do whatever is needed".
After the stormy meeting, the Congress members of the PAC held confabulations with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

"In our view, the Joshi report stands rejected...This matter comes to an end," Bansal said, adding "now all eyes are on the JPC."

Asked whether Joshi could present the report, he said, "there is nothing to present" as it was only a draft.

He recalled that in the case of coffin scam during the NDA government, the then Chairman Buta Singh of PAC had presented a report in an "arbitrary" manner and it was not taken cognizance of.

Queried whether Joshi could take up the 2G issue again in the next PAC if he again becomes the Chairman for the second term, Bansal said it may not be possible.

(Agencies)