New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) BJP members of a parliamentary panel probing the 2G spectrum allocation walked out of a meeting Tuesday, accusing its chairman of "dictatorial attitude" for refusing their request for fresh witnesses, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and are now mulling quitting the panel.
However, this move of the Bharatiya Janata Party came under attack from Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) chairman and Congress MP P.C. Chacko, who said its demand for an immediate decision on the fresh witnesses list was "totally unreasonable".
BJP's Yashwant Sinha, who led the walk-out from the meeting, told a press conference later that there was no point in his party members continuing in the JPC, as they were not allowed to even speak "one sentence" on the chair's refusal to discuss the demand for a fresh witnesses list.
A final decision on whether to continue in or quit the committee will be taken after the BJP-called India shutdown Sep 20 is over, Sinha said.
"There is no point in continuing in the JPC. The way it is functioning, it is quite clear JPC is not any more an instrument for uncovering truth but for putting a cover on the (2G allocation) scam," he said.
"Immediately after Bharat Bandh (nationwide shutdown), we will decide on future course of action; whether we have to continue in the committee or leave," Sinha said.
The JPC, which is probing the contentious 2G spectrum allocation, was formed on the opposition's insistence after the entire winter session of parliament in 2010 was lost to protests demanding a JPC.
Sinha said the BJP members were not allowed to speak at Tuesday's meet of the panel, and accused Chacko of having a "dictatorial attitude".
"As soon as the meeting began, the chairman said, 'I have received a letter from Yashwant Sinha and have sent a reply... Let us call the witnesses now'," Sinha said giving an account of events.
The JPC was to question former finance secretary and present Reserve Bank of India Governor D. Subbarao in the 2G spectrum allocation.
"(BJP member) Ravishankar Prasad then raised his hand, and Chacko said if it is about the list of witnesses, he will not allow any discussion," Sinha said, adding that their members repeatedly asked if the issue will be taken up later, but the chairman did not allow them to speak at all.
"He behaved in a totally dictatorial manner, reminiscent of the Emergency. We are sorry to say, he did not behave like the impartial chairman of the committee but acted like spokesperson of the Congress. So, we walked out of the committee," he said.
This is the second time when the BJP has walked out of the JPC. Earlier, at a meeting of the committee Aug 22 during parliament's monsoon session, BJP members walked out from the committee after a member from the Congress accused them of making it a "Kangaroo court".
Chacko, after the day's JPC meeting, said the BJP members' demands, including that of a list with the prime minister and finance minister as witnesses, would be decided by the committee "democratically" by a majority.
He targeted the BJP members, saying they had returned to the JPC meeting with "an agenda" after having decided to boycott it at an earlier meeting on Aug 22.
"The BJP members returned to the meeting on their own and I had not assured anything to them. They came with an agenda and executed it. Their demand is totally unreasonable," he said.
Despite the BJP members' walk-out, the JPC meet continued and Subbarao, who was the finance secretary at the time of the spectrum allocation, deposed before the JPC.
According to a JPC member, Chacko also informed the meeting that since Chidambaram was the finance minister when Subbarao was the finance secretary, the minister need not be summoned, as he would provide the same information as his then ministry secretary.