The BJP has explained in detail why five of its members walked out of a meeting of a parliamentary committee on the telecom or 2G scam.
Yesterday, five senior BJP members of parliament left the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) meeting in protest because the panel has not agreed to summon the Prime Minister and Finance Minister P Chidambaram. They also said that by referring to the committee as "a kangaroo court," Congress members of the same committee had vitiated the atmosphere.
Yashwant Sinha of the BJP said that the list of witnesses proposed by the JPC included senior NDA leaders Atal Behari Vajpayee and George Fernandez, who are in poor health, but not the PM and Mr Chidambaram. The NDA is a national coalition led by the BJP. Mr Sinha said that earlier this year, the Prime Minister offered to depose for the Public Accounts Committee, another parliamentary panel, because he knows that it does not have the mandate to summon him. On the other hand, Mr Sinha said, the PM has made no such "grand gesture" to depose for the JPC, which is empowered to question ministers. "The purpose (of the government) is to indulge in corruption and cover up...the government wants us to be a mute witness," Mr Sinha said.
For the last three days, the BJP has not allowed parliament to function; it says the Prime Minister must resign because he allowed coal fields to be sold at under-valued prices to private firms, resulting in a benefit of 1.86 lakh crores to the buyers, an estimate reached by the national auditor and disputed by the government.
The BJP says that in 2008, when A Raja was Telecom Minister, he kept the Prime Minister and P Chidambaram informed of the steps he was taking to allocate valuable new mobile network licenses. Mr Raja ignored advice to auction the licenses, choosing instead to follow a first-come-first-served policy, which he then allegedly twisted so that telecoms that he favoured jumped to the head of the long queue. Mr Raja was jailed for over a year and is now being tried for corruption along with executives of some of India's largest telecoms. The BJP says that the PM and Mr Chidambaram are guilty of dereliction of duty because they did not intervene to stop Mr Raja from executing one of India's biggest swindles.