Chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee and BJP leader Dr Murli Manohar Joshi is in the news as PAC examines the 2G spectrum allocation. Dr Joshi shares his views on the telecom scam, right-wing terror, onion prices and much more with Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi on her show Kahiye Janab.
Swati: Hello and welcome to Kahiye Janab. Let’s start with Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal’s statement that CAG`s estimate of loss in 2G scam was utterly erroneous. He made an attack on the country’s Comptroller & Auditor General. Why is the UPA government again and again inflicting damage upon the nation’s institutions?
Joshi: As far as Kapil Sibal’s statement is concerned, I think he has not read the report carefully.CAG never mentioned in its report the exact figures. His recent outburst that there was no loss is highly irresponsible.
Swati: If there was no huge scam, then why didn’t the Indian government say anything? Why did A Raja resign? The person (Kapil Sibal) who doesn’t have any answers or any right to speak has still made such a statement...?
Joshi: First of all, I wonder whether Sibal`s statement had the permission and consent of the Prime Minister. If the PM also thinks the same, then the UPA government is indulging in institutional damage. But if Sibal has said it without PM’s knowledge, then it is his impropriety.
Swati: Our audience is very disappointed with today’s politicians after the unearthing of big scams. Still, the government says there is no theft….
Joshi: I would like to know from the government what it wishes to say. There has been no statement from the PMO or any senior minister on this issue. If it is the Cabinet’s decision, then the matter is very serious. But, if it is an individual’s decision, then it is shocking that a minister, who knows law very well and is heading this ministry, is making such statements.
Whenever there is an audit of any ministry, it gets full freedom to speak on its part. But, calling it baseless and saying there is no ‘loss’ is the height of irresponsibility... In future, it should be ensured that there are no such statements and institutions like CAG are not criticised.
Swati: Even Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, who is very close to the PM, had once said, while attacking CAG, that the figure of the scam is not so high; it’s an over-assessment... What is all this?
Joshi: He could not have said these things as he understands financial matters very well and knows about audit. I am repeating again that the CAG never mentioned any exact figure. But, if they are dissatisfied, then they should show us the facts. The ministry has full right to put forth its view, but it should not criticise the CAG like this.
Swati: What is your take as the PAC chairman?
Joshi: It is improper and against propriety. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is the competent authority to guide the Public Accounts Committee; she should ensure that no such "impropriety" on part of the ministry recurs.
Swati: The last session, for the first time, historically, ended on 2G scam. Now, the Budget Session is coming. Don’t you think the BJP should show some responsibility and let the Budget Session proceed smoothly?
Joshi: I think it is the responsibility of all the parties to make it (Budget Session) successful. But, the UPA government is more responsible. So, they should ensure that the Budget Session takes place smoothly. The Opposition also understands this and there should be amicable talks between the government and Opposition. Then, there can be some solution.
Swati: There was a “perceived divide” within the BJP. You were saying that PAC is enough; PM volunteered to appear before it. But, Leaders of Opposition, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, were determined on the demand for a JPC… What do you have to say on this?
Joshi: PAC is an institution and is doing its work properly. Not only the BJP, but the people of India are demanding a JPC probe. So, the government should think on it and a JPC should be formed.
Swati: In your party, many people are now on Twitter and are demanding JPC online...
Joshi: There is nothing wrong in joining Twitter and propagating the party’s point of view. They have this right.
Swati: The PM has said that he is ready to face the PAC. Do you consider it as a conspiracy to divide your party ranks?
Joshi: No, I don’t think so. The Prime Minister also knows that we are not kids. And if they think that our party and other Opposition members will not demand the JPC if they depose before the PAC, then it is their mistake.
Swati: In the Niira Radia tapes, some journalists’ names also cropped up. You said that you will call them too. What will happen by calling them?
Joshi: If any link related to corruption is found in this scam, then it is our duty to follow the money trail. So, if there was any wrong dissemination of information regarding the spectrum allocation, we need to check this by calling journalists.
Swati: As a leader of the BJP, let’s talk about Hindu terror and Swami Assemanand’s confessions?
Joshi: Hindu terror is a controversial term. The term ‘Hindu’ means a way of life. The Supreme Court has also said that Hinduism dates back to thousands of years. It’s a dishonour to relate Hindu culture with terror. It’s like dividing humanity into Hindu terror, Muslim terror, Christian terror etc... How will India become a superpower? So, it is not at all good for the country’s reputation.
Swati: Is the government crying because of rise in onion prices?
Joshi: Yes, of course, it is crying. They again and again say that combating price rise is not in our hands. Sharad Pawar says that he doesn’t grow vegetables... The Planning Commission and Finance Ministry say they are not responsible for price rise. The Prime Minister only says he will call a meeting.
Adaptation: Preeti Panwar