Tuesday, October 20, 2009


20 Oct 2006


NEW DELHI: The ghost of Bhartiya Janata Party seems haunting expelled party veteran Jaswant Singh as he just could not tolerate photo frames of some of its leaders hung in his Parliament office of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that he heads.

His chamber walls are full of pictures of all the past 49 PAC chairmen, right from the first Chairman W M Hailey in 1921 and 11 other British chairmen.

A selective removal of frames of only those belonging to the BJP would have brought on him the charge of prejudice and so he summoned his secretariat staff and told them to immediately remove all pictures from the walls as they serve no purpose.

The staff was stunned as it is a routine practice in most government offices to have photos or names of all past occupants of the post displayed. None, however, dare argue with the chairman. Jaswant Singh gave no reason for his order, but told the staff that he should not see any photograph in his chamber when he visits next.

Of course, he would have no objection to the picture of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was the PAC chairman for two terms twice -- 1069 to 1971 and again from 1991 to 1993. But then there are also pictures of the BJP leaders like Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Ram Naik and Prof. Vijay Kumar Malhotra.

His secretariat wrote a formal letter to Lok Sabha Secretary-General PDT Achary, seeking his advice on his orders to remove all photographs from his chamber. Achary issued an order on Friday, giving permission to remove them and keep them in proper custody.

The process of removal of the photographs began on war footing on Monday but all could not be removed in just one day as the staff faced the difficulty of unmounting name plate stuck under each photograph and then tie both together lest it becomes difficult to identify who is who if the next PAC chairman desires them remounted on his chamber walls. Jaswant Singh is the chairman just for one year until July 2010.

As an official busy with operation removal said, there are Britishers like Sir Basil P Blackett (6 terms), Sir George Schuster (3 terms), Sir James Grigg (4 terms) and Sir Jeremy Raisman (4 terms) whom no one can recognise by just looking at their pictures unless their name plates are kept together with their pictures.

The only Indian getting the post during the British time was Sir Bhupendra Nath Mitra in 1928 while the last PAC chairmen in a single year in 1946 were Sir Eric Coates, Dr John Mathai and Liaquat Ali Khan. While Liaquat continued in 1947, R K Sharmukham Chetty became the chairman in the same year and continued for a period in 1948 until Dr John Mathai took over and continued in the post in 1949 as well.

Prominent leaders among those occupying the post of the PAC chairman, a key position in the parliamentary system, were R K Khadilkar, R R Morarka, M R Masani, Era Sezhiyan, Jyotirmoy Basu, P V Narasimha Rao, Amal Datta, Narayan Dutt Tiwari and Buta Singh.



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