New Delhi: The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, urged expelled senior leader Jaswant Singh on Monday to step down as chairman of Parliament’s public accounts committee (PAC) on grounds of propriety, but party officials said the veteran politician spurned the call.
Singh had been nominated to be chairman of the PAC by the BJP before his expulsion on 19 August for writing a laudatory book on Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Defiant: Expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh. Vijay Verma / PTI
The PAC, which is constituted every year, examines accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by Parliament for the government’s expenditure and scrutinizes the annual finance accounts.
“Propriety demands that Jaswant Singh should quit from the post of the PAC chairman. These posts are decided by consensus and has been with the opposition party as a matter of tradition,” said BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad.
BJP members Sushma Swaraj and S.S. Ahluwalia met Singh at his residence on Monday to communicate the party’s request that he step down as the PAC chairman. According to party officials who didn’t want to be named, Singh refused to heed the call.
Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani met Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar on the issue on Monday evening.
Analysts say Singh has the right to remain PAC chairman even after his expulsion.
“Jaswant Singh technically remains a member of BJP in Parliament records. He can continue as the chairman of PAC till the full one-year term,” said Subhash Kashyap, constitutional adviser to the government and former secretary-general of the Lok Sabha.
Meanwhile, Singh found some support from within the BJP on Monday with senior party leader and Rajya Sabha member Pyarelal Khandelwal writing to party president Rajnath Singh, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat and Advani, criticising Singh’s expulsion.
In his letter, Khandelwal said the decision to expel Singh was taken in haste and at the behest of a particular section of the party. He asked the party leadership to reconsider the expulsion.