A meeting of the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday witnessed a verbal slugfest between its chairman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and MPs from the ruling National Democratic Alliance as the Congress leader sought to raise the issue of COVID-19 vaccination drive for discussion in the panel, sources said.
The PAC met for the first time after the outbreak of the second wave of coronavirus to finalise subjects for discussion for the current year.
During the meeting, Chowdhury started reading a suo motu statement critical of the Centre's Covid management, which was vehemently opposed by Bharatiya Janata Party members, including Jagdambika Pal, and Janata Dal-United MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh who said that reading statement is not in line with the rules, the sources said.
In his remarks during the meeting, Chowdhury also suggested taking up the vaccination drive issue for discussion in the panel, which was also strongly opposed by the MPs of the BJP-led NDA.
After continued opposition and interruption from NDA MPs while he was reading the statement, Chowdhury said if he is saying something inappropriate, he would step down as the chairman of the PAC.
Justifying their opposition, the NDA MPs suggested that the broader purpose of the PAC is to audit the revenue and the expenditure of the Union government.
Its primary function is to examine the audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) after it is laid before Parliament.
When contacted, Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab declined to disclose what transpired in the meeting but said as per the rules subjects for discussion in the PAC should be decided unanimously.
He further said that this is the centenary year of the PAC and these rules are well established.