Congress denies differences in party over PM’s PAC offer

Sunday, January 2, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Congress Sunday denied there were any differences in the party over Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs offer to appear before parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the 2G spectrum issue, saying that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had complimented him for his unilateral move.

“I think he (Mukherjee) is complimenting the prime minister for the bold step. I dont think there is difference of opinion. It is the prime minister’s decision,” Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed told IANS.

He said the party had never asked the prime minister to appear before the PAC.

“It was entirely his decision. The prime minister has said he has nothing to hide, Ahmed said.

The spokesman said Mukherjee was right in saying that the prime minister was accountable only to the Lok Sabha and parliament.

Mukherjee said in Kolkata Sunday that Prime Minister had “on his own” offered to appear before the PAC. The minister said he would have advised against it had Manmohan Singh sought his opinion.

Later in the day, Mukherjee ruled out any rift between him and the prime minister on the subject, and lambasted the media for not understanding what he said.

Mukherjee said a minister is accountable to the Lok Sabha, and in a state to the assembly.

Reacting to Mukherjees remarks, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the Congress was “not serious” about fighting corruption.

Party spokesman Tarun Vijay said Mukeherjees and Manmonhan Singh’s “confusing statements on the PAC indicate the non-serious nature of the Congress leadership on the issue of corruption”.

Last month, the prime minister had said at the Congress plenary that he was making an “unprecedented” offer to appear before the PAC which is going into the 2G scam, based on the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the issue.

But the prime minister’s offer has not cut much ice with the opposition, which is demanding a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum allocation.

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