Even as the United Progressive Alliance government continues to be in a tizzy over the Central Vigilance C's appointment, sources say that PJ Thomas has refused to quit, primarily because he feels that he is an honest man and because as the central vigilance commissioner he enjoys immunity against prosecution, particularly in corruption cases.
So, as long as Thomas continues to be the CVC, he cannot be prosecuted, much like the Comtroller and Auditor General, who enjoys the same status as they are constitutional posts and cannot be sacked by the government but would need to be impeached by Parliament.
Sources in Congress party claim that Thomas has one condition by which he is willing to quit office and save the government further embarrassment. He wants the Left Front government in Kerala to withdraw the prosecution's case against him since he does not want it hanging over his head. However, this claim could not be confirmed.
But with assembly elections in Kerala around the corner and the Left Front government fighting a tough battle with the Congress in the state, the Thomas case is a political tool with which the Left can attack the Congress, so the question is why would the Left withdraw the case, when they gain more politically by keeping the issue alive.
Interestingly while the Bharatiya Janata Party has been screaming itself hoarse over the CVC's appointment, the Left has been very
Senior leaders say it is primarily because they recognise that Thomas is an honest man, so while they are not making his appointment an issue, they are also not willing to withdraw the case.
In the government, there is a sharp division over how to handle the case, now that there is allround acknowledgment that it has been badly handled. A senior union minister admitted as much but then said that the view was that the Supreme Court might not push the case any further and that it may not put the government on the mat over the appointment.
But the law ministry is credited with exactly the opposite view point. Sources say that the view is prevailing to ensure Thomas' resignation before the court further raps the government.
Sources say that the government has now decided to appoint KK Venugopal, a very senior and highly thought of lawyer to handle the case of Thomas, in the hope that the issue can be resolved and the government would not have to face further flak.
A series of meetings have been taking place at the highest level in the PMO in a bid to get a handle on the issue but the Congress Core Committee could not meet as the Congress President Sonia Gandhi continues to be unwell.
It is worth noting that for the second day in a row, the Congress has kept itself aloof from the entire burning controversy and has left the government to handle the mess of Thomas's appointment as CVC.