Re-surrection of Murali Manohar Joshi
Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party refuses to give up its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the 2G Spectrum scam, its senior leader Murali Manohar Joshi has already started his task of examining those connected with the controversy. Joshi who is the head of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has taken up the position that he was mandated by the constitution to inquire into the scandal following the submission of the report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
Joshi may have upset many NDA leaders in the process but there is no denying that he has come back into lime light after being pushed into the background by his colleagues in the BJP.
He has benefited from the fact that no one in his own party or amongst his allies as also those in the Left and the UPA doubt his integrity. He is seen as the Mr Clean of the BJP/NDA and a person who cannot be manipulated. This could be the reason that LK Advani and his coterie have not been able to digest his emergence from the shadows.
Joshi on his part is unruffled and has already examined former TRAI chairman Pradeep Baijal who works for controversial lobbyist Niira Radia.
He has also summoned some others. The process is likely to continue, as Joshi is not the one who will bow to pressure despite the displeasure being expressed by JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha. The only way, the BJP can prevent him from carrying on his task is by asking him to quit from the PAC. This he may do being a disciplined soldier of the Sangh Parivar.
The problem within the BJP has many dimensions to it. Joshi is seen as a hardliner who cannot compromise with either any lobby and least of all with the Congress. In sharp contrast there have been snide remarks made against some of his colleagues who have alleged links with many across party lines including the Congress. Joshi may have been out of favour in the BJP but has never been regarded as someone who will ever question the Sangh ideology. He has never stated that he was opposed to the JPC as some of his opponents within the party are trying to convey but has only said that he as the PAC Chairman cannot stop doing the work assigned to him.
There are many who argue that the PAC cannot summon any minister. But in this case, A.Raja who is in the centre of the storm is no longer a minister and hence can be examined. The JPC probe demand has stalled Parliament and even if the Congress decides to agree to it, the inquiry will go on for two years or more. The JPC suits the Congress much more and leaves us wondering why it is resisting such a thing. If it fears that the Prime Minister may have to respond to the summons, there is nothing wrong in it. The Prime Minister is answerable to Parliament and if going before the JPC will help him exonerate those who have also come under suspicion, there is a strong reason why he should go before the JPC.
My personal take on this is that the Congress and the BJP have not thought this issue through. It is in the interest of the Congress and the UPA that there should be a JPC but for the BJP it serves little purpose. The posturing has already taken up a lot of time and it is time for Parliament to resume. If the BJP and its allies are so unhappy they should move a no confidence motion on the issue of corruption. It is possible that some of the UPA allies who are also favouring a JPC may support them. Prolonging things just for the sake of doing so is not helping anyone’s cause. The BJP must push forward its agenda and take the risk of going ahead with the no confidence motion. The treasury benches will have to face the motion and it will also entail a long debate. The debate will also tell us who stands where on the subject of corruption.
But while this impasse continues, Joshi has been able to re-surrect himself. People have started asking as to why is the BJP interested in a JPC, which will be headed by a Congressman, rather than a PAC headed by its own senior leader. It is a win win situation for the former BJP president who had been marginalized by Advani and his coterie.