Strong differences prevailed at the parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting today over the Covid pandemic in the country. BJP and JDU members of the panel raised their objection to the matter being raised by Chairman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress, according to sources in the know.
The PAC, an important watchdog and the oldest House panel, monitors and audits the revenue and expenditure of the Government of India. As soon as Chairman Chowdhury began talking about the pandemic and issues related to it today, NDA members, led by Jagdambika Pal and Lalan Singh, objected to taking up matters suo motu.
It was, however, pointed that in previous Lok Sabhas matters -- be it the 2G spectrum or road construction -- had been taken up in this manner on a number of occasions even before the Comptroller and Auditor General readied any reports.
The NDA parliamentarians, with a clear brief, paid no heed. An exasperated Mr Chowdhury then offered to quit as Chairman if the committee exceeded its brief, urging it to take up the matter of responses and preparations for the expected third Covid wave.
Interestingly, other members, including those of the DMK and the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD, kept quiet about the Chairman's proposal seeking a comprehensive review on Covid.
It was argued by the NDA members that the Parliament's Standing Committee on Home Affairs had already taken up the matter, even though the PAC had sought to scrutinise the government's response last year, too.
In recent times, the BJP-led NDA has opposed any parliamentary scrutiny on important issues like demonetisation and the repeal of Article 370, among others.