Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee K V Thomas today maintained that the key parliamentary panel could summon anyone from the council of ministers, including the prime minister. The leader, who is currently in Gangtok to chair a PAC meeting, told PTI over the phone that if the Lok Sabha Speaker gives permission and all members of the panel agree, the prime minister can be summoned in connection with matters involving him.
“If a Union cabinet minister can be summoned, why not the prime minister … In our system, the prime minister is first among equals,” he said.
Thomas’ tenure as PAC chairman ends today. His party colleague Mallikarjun Kharge will take over the post tomorrow. The senior Congress leader, who served as the PAC chairman for three consecutive terms, also argued that the rules permit the panel to summon the prime minister.
Asked about a panel member demanding privilege notice against him for stating the same in January while examining the Centre’s decision to demonetise high-value currency notes, he said, “I have not changed my stand on the issue.” PAC member Nishikant Dubey of the BJP had demanded privilege motion against Thomas, alleging that he used the committee to “lower the dignity” of the prime minister on January 9 at a press conference here.
Thomas said the PAC chaired by him was a 21-member committee, out of which 12 were from the BJP. “I held the post for three consecutive terms … It was for the first time that a PAC chairman got an extension for a third term,” he said. The Ernakulam MP said the panel had taken decisions unanimously on all major issues like the Commonwealth Games, 2G, the AgustaWestland case and KG basin.
“Our panel submitted 80 reports during the three-year term … It is a record… It was our panel which brought to light that banks had accumulated non-performing assets of Rs 7 lakh crore. “We had summoned the then governor of the Reserve Bank of India and chairmen of the public sector banks over the issue,” Thomas said.
On the role he is going to take up after signing out, Thomas, who is one of the top contenders for the post of president of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee said, Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi would take a decision on his future political role. The job of KPCC president is a highly responsible one and the high command is expected to take a decision on it soon, he added. Congress leaders P T Thomas MLA and K Sudhakaran are the other major contenders for the post of PCC Chief.