Question mark raised over who is #2 in government: Advani

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LK Advani
Sambalpur (Orissa), Oct 24: BJP leader LK Advani today (Oct 24) took a dig at the Congress saying though there was always a question mark over who was the number one in the government, now by creating a "pecking order" the government has now raised a question mark over who was the number two.

On reports about a hierarchy set by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said, "This pecking order has been declared and its importance is that all important decisions will be taken by the Prime Minister in relation to the cabinet."

At the same time, he said this "does not mean that no permission is required from 10 Janpath," in relation to key decisions.

"Secondly, the pecking order establishes parity between the Home Minister and the Finance Minister, totally disregarding the fact that the Finance Minister today is the Leader of the House in Lok Sabha," Advani said.

"There can be no two leaders in Lok Sabha.I would say that since its inception, there has been a question mark over who is the number one in the government. Whether it is the Prime Minister or the Congress President," Advani said.

"Today, there is a question mark even over the number two. The earlier question mark, even though they let it hang, never created a doubt in anybody's mind," he said.

"However, the doubt about this would remain," Advani said referring to "parity" between the Home Minister and Finance Minister.

"I feel if a Prime Minister wants to appoint two cabinet ministers as Deputy Prime Ministers he can do it. But he cannot name two ministers as number two," he said.

The Prime Minister has directed that either Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee or Home Minister P Chidambaram should remain in Delhi to look after the day-to-day affairs of the Government while he is underway on three foreign visits next month.

Singh is also understood to have ordered that either Mukherjee or Chidambaram be present if any meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) takes place in his absence.

Advani said in the 2G scam, "all the ministers involved and all who the court had indicted were from DMK. There has been a demand that the Home Minister's role should also be probed. Is this 'pecking order' an attempt to thwart a probe against him in the 2G scam after the indictment of DMK ministers".

He also referred to media reports which have said that the "pecking order" was an attempt to "demolish the number two" and added it was generally held that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was number two, though he could not "vouch" for the reports.

Advani said that in the 2G scam, the government on its own had not "taken any action and all the action had been taken only because of the Supreme court or the CAG".

PTI

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