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Thomas sworn in as CVC; BJP skips function

September 07, 2010 18:55 IST

Senior Indian Administrative Service officer P J Thomas was on Tuesday sworn in as the new Central Vigilance Commissioner amid a boycott by main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been objecting to his appointment to the post in view of his alleged tainted background.

Thomas, the Telecom Secretary till now, was administered the oath of office by President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The brief function was attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar and Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah among others.

Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, however, boycotted the function as BJP is opposed to the appointment of the 1973-batch Kerala cadre officer to the top post of the anti-corruption watchdog in view of allegations against him in palm oil import scam during his earlier tenures in Kerala.

"It was a conscious decision not to go (to the function) to protest the manner in which P J Thomas was appointed over-ruling the very legitimate concerns expressed by BJP about him," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Swaraj, who was a part of the three-member Committee that selected Thomas for the CVC Chief's post, had registered her dissent over his appointment.

This was ignored by the Committee headed by the Prime Minister and also included the Home Minister.

BJP has alleged that the government wanted to appoint Thomas as the CVC head to "cover-up" the alleged scam in allocation of 2G spectrum in which accusations have been levelled against Telecom Minister A Raja.

The prime minister on Monday defended the appointment of Thomas, saying: "We have done the right thing. We have chosen the best candidate out of the list of three."

Thomas succeeded Pratyush Sinha, a 1969 batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre, who demitted office on Monday after a four-year tenure as CVC.