Sack Chacko, demands angry Opposition
In keeping with its quest for a larger index of Opposition unity, the BJP agreed to make some last-minute changes to the draft resolution that was to be submitted by various parties to Speaker Meira Kumar, expressing no-confidence in JPC chairperson P C Chacko.
In the draft resolution, it was mentioned that ‘Chacko is so biased that he has refused to call former Telecom Minister A Raja, besides Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, for deposition before the panel’.
The AIADMK representative on the panel, M Thambidurai, said that Raja’s name cannot be mentioned, and hence it was omitted. The DMK, through its two members, then insisted that the Prime Minister’s name should not be there, and hence that too was deleted. It was unity of a different kind, with an identical letter given to various parties for signing, as parties like the DMK and the AIADMK, and the Left and the Trinamool didn’t want to be seen signing alongside, on a common draft.
At another level, it was Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who contributed in bringing together diverse political formations, as a result of which 15 non-Congress MPs on Thursday petitioned the Speaker, demanding Chacko’s removal. It so happened that after a meeting of his party MPs on April 22, an agitated SP supremo told his fellow Lok Sabha MP from the Biju Janata Dal, B Mahtab, that the Congress-led UPA Government had been ‘grossly unfair’, if the leaked draft JPC report was anything to go by.
“Even those who are facing capital punishment are granted their last wish. How could they, then, not call (former Telecom Minister) A Raja to depose before the panel? Also, the references to the Vajpayee era in the report are highly questionable. Had Vajpayee been well, he would have demolished the entire thesis in one press conference,” said Mulayam, while talking to Mahtab. This was told to Express by Mahtab.
Upon this conversation, the BJD MP had a word with his Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and he also alerted his fellow party MP on the parliamentary panel, Arjun Charan Sethi. Mahtab also got in touch with senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha who said his party was already protesting on those twin issues.
This was the beginning of the BJD and its Parliament party office emerging as the ‘seemingly neutral’ venue for confabulations among non-Congress MPs on the panel. In the first such meeting at the BJD office on April 23, thus, DMK’s T R Baalu, TMC’s Kalyan Banerjee, CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta, besides BJP’s Yashwant and BJD’s Sethi met.
Kalyan told Express that being part of the Finance Committee, he was already in regular touch with Yashwant, so being part of this group was not difficult. The DMK leaders, on the other hand, were already in touch with Yashwant on this particular issue.
CPI’s Dasgupta was already enraged with the clean chit given to the PM and the Finance Minister in the leaked draft JPC report, so he came on board.
The CPM had similar views on the subject.
With the Left and the Trinamool having come together on one platform, the challenge lay in bringing together the DMK and the AIADMK on the panel. So, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, who shares cordial ties with AIADMK supremoand Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa, spoke to her on Wednesday.
Jayalalithaa, in turn, assured him that an appropriate decision would be taken by her party.
While less-than-cordial ties between the BJP and the JD (U) had become a recurrent theme in political conversations, the JD (U) assured its larger ally that it was fully with the BJP on this particular issue.