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Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan addressed the media today.
Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan said we would like to condemn the statement and press conference held by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi yesterday where he has finally and completely placed the last nail in the coffin of the Public accounts Committee by politicizing, destroying one of the most important parliamentary institutions - in one sense the watchdog of the finances of the government. During his previous period as Chairman of the PAC Dr. Joshi had already destroyed the credibility of the committee by functioning on a partisan basis by briefing the media every day after meetings of the committee although that is not a normal practice and by turning the entire event into political one upmanship. Although the rules clearly state that the majority views of the committee is taken on any question, he still submitted a rejected report, which is not a report at all, full of falsehood and inaccuracy to the Speaker and to cap it all, yesterday, after being reappointed as Chairman of the PAC once again, he has totally destroyed his own position which should be a non-partisan Chairman by attacking the Congress party and some other parties for raising issues regarding the previous report which now stands rejected. He has talked about issues which are totally outside the purview of the PAC including the status of these parties in Uttar Pradesh and other places and it is now a matter of doubt for us whether we can any longer repose any faith in him to carry out his duties in an impartial, free and fair manner. We condemn the remarks made by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi in no uncertain terms particularly the remarks which did not relate to affairs which were before the Public Accounts Committee and we condemn the fact that by making the remarks public, he has rendered untenable his position as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. We always knew that being a party without any serious issue except communal and divisive politics, the BJP resolved to denigrating institutions whether it was the President of India or the Chief Election Commissioner, now the office of the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. So, we condemn these remarks of Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi and demand that he apologizes to Parliament and to Speaker who has appointed him and withdraw these remarks which were made against the functioning and the Members of the Public Accounts Committee which is a continuing body.
On the question as to whether the Congress party wanted Dr. Joshi to resign, Smt. Natarajan said that all issues will be raised in the committee. Whatever needs to be done, we will raise in the Committee. Smt. Natarajan said I am merely condemning his statement. He has not yet called for a meeting. We will take up this issue at various levels. I am speaking both as National Spokesperson of the Congress Party and as a Member of the Public Accounts Committee. Whatever steps we take, will be done in the committee. We certainly have full respect for the Speaker's decision. However, Dr. Joshi has rendered his position as untenable by holding the press conference yesterday.
On a question that Mr. Ram Niwas Mirdha as JPC Chairman did the same thing as done by Dr. Joshi, Smt. Natarajan said there is a huge distinction. Yesterday, Dr. Joshi converted his press conference into a political exercise which Mr. Mirdha did not do. Smt. Natarajan further said, she too, chairs a committee and I brief the media whenever we are ready with a report. However, Dr. Joshi converted it into a political side-show where he attacked Members of the UPA and others who oppose his point of view and we condemned it even at that point of time. Yesterday's press conference crossed all boundaries because he talked about issues which are completely extraneous to the Public Accounts Committee; he talked about the stand of the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh, he talked about who supports whom in UP, he talked as a Spokesperson of the BJP and not as a Chairman of the PAC.
To a question over the reaction of the Congress party over the statement of Shri Digvijay Singh and the visit and mode of travel of Shri Rahul Gandhi to Greater Noida, Smt. Natarajan said Shri Rahul Gandhi has visited Greater Noida to understand the issues of the farmers. Regarding what Shri Digvijay Singh said yesterday, media will have to ask him because she is not aware what he said yesterday. At this point of time I am only aware that Shri Rahul Gandhi has gone there. I am not aware of the further plan of action. General Secretary In-charge of Uttar Pradesh can brief the media better on this issue. Smt. Natarajan further said I think there is no ban on travelling on a motor cycle and I feel that it was a very effective method employed by Shri Rahul Gandhi in understanding at first hand the problem of the farmers and I not believe that any other leader from the opposition would actually take the trouble to understand at first hand the problems of the farmers. She also added that Shri Rahul Gandhi said in Greater Noida today that the land of the farmers should not be acquired for private use and the farmers should be paid the market rate for their land. The Bill for amendment in Land Acquisition Act is also pending in the Parliament and it should be passed.
On the question of the role of the central government in addressing the farmers' problem, Smt. Natarajan said that central government cannot do anything in four days on a state subject. The central government is not responsible for firing on farmers. We don't expect the opposition parties to say anything else and we don't expect admiration from them.
On the question of the reaction of the Congress party over Supreme Court's verdict on the issue of Bhopal gas tragedy, Smt. Natarajan said we have not studied the contents of the exact judgment and will not be in a position to comment on the same.