Why Did Jaswant Singh Not Quit as Public Accounts Committee Chairman?

Jaswant Singh ruled out both rejoining BJP and quitting chairmanship of PAC at the behest of the BJP. Normally, the powerful post of chairmanship of PAC is offered to the principal opposition party in the parliament i.e., BJP. When Jaswant was in the party, he was the automatic choice of the party to the coveted post, to placate his feelings, since he was nursing grievances and airing some issues in public over rewards to others including Advani and Jaitley.

Now things have changed. He was expelled from BJP on disciplinary grounds. Whether such expulsion was right or wrong, is altogether a different matter. Whether Jaswant Singh is within his rights to continue as the Chairman of the PAC after his expulsion from BJP is the question asked. He is defiant and refused to quit despite Sushma’s meeting with him and her request to quit.

According to Jaswant Singh, he would not quit at the behest of BJP. It was the prerogative of the Speaker of Lok Sabha, indicating that he would quit if asked to do so by the Speaker. It was a piquant situation both to BJP and the Speaker as well. If going by tradition, the Speaker would be within her right to ask Jaswant to quit or replace him with the BJP nominee. If Jaswant Singh wanted to avoid the ignominy of the Speaker asking him to quit or be sacked, he should volunteer and quit gracefully from the chairmanship of PAC. If he does the latter, he would be hailed as a statesman and a gentleman too. If he does not, it would be construed that he was after an office.

Jaswant Singh is a gentleman politician and his conduct after his expulsion is the indicator. He was a perfect persona dignified and graceful in the trying hours. He maintained civility in all his utterances and never used any derogatory remarks or foul language against anyone, that is often heard from a vanquished politician. Keeping all these in mind, people of this country would expect Jaswant Singh to quit on his own to avoid the ignominy of being asked to resign by the Speaker of the House. He can avoid this.

BJP will probably not rest until this post is offered to them. They may press home the point to the Speaker and a decision would soon be taken in this regard. Regardless of what the Speaker does, BJP’s claim to the post cannot just be brushed aside. It has to be considered keeping in tune with the long traditions of parliamentary practices of offering the post of chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee to the principal opposition party i.e., BJP – and Jaswant Singh certainly is no longer the nominee of the BJP.

Jaswant Singh is yet to come out and spell out his future plans. There were invitations from other parties, including SP, to join ranks with them. He continued to maintain that he would never go back to BJP as the insult heaped on him and would continue to serve the people of his constituency in Darjeeling, indicating he would not quit the MP post in the near future. On the other hand, he might write to the Speaker to allot him a separate seat in the parliament as an “unattached” member, as he would not wish to sit with other BJP members in the parliament.

Now the ball is in the court of the Speaker of Lok Sabha. What decision she takes, will be watched with interest. My advice to Jaswant Singh is to quit on his own to avoid unpleasant action from the Speaker of the House. Jai Hind.