Saturday, March 5, 2011

Manmohan should fix responsibility: BJP

New Delhi, March 3, 2011

The BJP on Thursday asserted that as the representative of the three-member team for appointing P.J. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner (who has since resigned) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should fix 'accountability\' for the decision.

Welcoming the Supreme Court verdict quashing the appointment of Mr. Thomas, the party skirted questions on whether it would seek Dr. Singh\'s resignation on the plea that it would prefer to wait for a response from Dr. Singh before making comments.

The BJP leaders are elated over the Supreme Court judgment, particularly since Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who was part of the three-member panel constituted to select the CVC, had disagreed with the appointment. At the same time, the BJP does not appear to be in a mood to rock the boat of the Manmohan government. "What is the point of asking the resignation of the Prime Minister? It is for the government to make an assessment of the current situation. The overall state of affairs is so bad that I feel like crying," National Democratic Alliance Working Chairman L.K. Advani told journalists.

Asked if the BJP favoured a mid-term election, Mr. Advani said while political parties might have one view, MPs who were elected for the first time might have a different opinion.

Mr. Advani charged that both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister were responsible for the 'mess\' and Dr. Singh could not claim that he was not informed of the pending corruption case against Mr. Thomas as Ms. Swaraj had raised the issue.

Ms. Swaraj had voiced dissent to the government proposal of appointing Mr. Thomas as CVC. Dr. Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram are the other members on the panel.

The former Deputy Prime Minister contended that though there was no hard and fast rule, the fact that the Leader of the Opposition was part of the committee indicated that the appointment had to be by consensus.

On the Supreme Court verdict, Ms. Swaraj said: "I am happy the dignity of the office of the CVC is restored. I am now waiting for a statement from the Prime Minister or the government. Depending on the statement I would respond accordingly."

BJP leaders said that at a 45-minute meeting of the committee, Mr. Chidambaram tried in vain to convince Ms. Swaraj that Mr. Thomas had been cleared of the corruption charges.

Dr. Singh and Mr. Chidambaram did not agree to Ms. Swaraj\'s proposal that the government appoint any of the other two members in the list. In response to her plea to postpone the decision by a day, the Prime Minister reportedly said that the appointment could not wait as the swearing-in ceremony of the incumbent CVC had been fixed for later in the day.

Bijoy Chatterjee and Subbaroyan Krishnan were the other two members in the list put up for consideration by the committee. "It is too much of a coincidence that all the three were secretaries of DMK Ministers. The 2G licence scam had already surfaced and the government zeroed in on Mr. Thomas who was the then Telecom Secretary," a senior BJP leader said.

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the government should have anticipated the court verdict. "You do not have to be an Einstein to know what was coming," he maintained, and said Dr. Singh should 'introspect whether he was misled or deliberately allowed himself to be misled" in the appointment of Mr. Thomas.

In a separate statement, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said integrity and independence were the most important qualities for appointment to the post of CVC.

"In the light of all this, it is evident that the government knew that his appointment because of his tainted record would give rise to controversy. Yet, it went about appointing him in a very determined manner. Obviously, there was a design behind this determination. The surrounding circumstances are too suspicious," Mr. Prasad said.

The BJP spokesman cited the oft-repeated statement of Dr. Singh that Caesar\'s wife must be above suspicion and said the country was entitled to know on what benchmark the Prime Minister was going to judge himself.

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