The discord over the right of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to summon the Prime Minister surfaced at its meeting on Friday, even as the panel issued a consensus statement citing a rule that bars finance committees from calling a minister to give evidence or for consultation.
Just as the meeting, which was to discuss defence-related matters, began, BJP members–Kirit Somaiyya, Nishikant Dubey and Bhupendra Yadav opposed the statement of the panels chairman KV Thomas that the panel had the right to call Prime Minister Narendra Modi if it was dissatisfied with the response of RBI governor Urjit Patel and finance ministry officials on demonetization. Dubey even said that they would not attend the meetings if the Congress kept such an approach.
Thomas tried to explain that he had merely stated that the PAC, in consultation with the Speaker, had the right to call a Prime Minister, if necessary. At this point, BJD leader B Mahtab and AIADMKs.
P Venugopal mediated playing peacemakers. Mahtab was then entrusted with the task of drafting a statement on behalf of the panel. Citing rule 99, it said though officials may be called to give evidence in connection with the examination of the estimates and accounts relating to a particular ministry, ministers shall not be called before the committee either to give evidence or consultation in connection with examination of estimates or accounts. However, it added that Chairperson, when considered necessary but after its deliberations are concluded may have an informal interaction with the minister.
BJPs old demand
Congress members reminded the BJP that when party veteran Murli Manohar Joshi was heading the PAC, he wanted the then PM Manmohan Singh to appear before the panel, which was probing 2G spectrum and coal scams.