BJP members of the JPC had earlier raised the same demand but panel chairman PC Chacko has consistently refused to include either Chidambaram or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the list of witnesses.
MPs of the main opposition party had staged a walkout over this when the panel met on Sep 18. They accused Chacko, who belongs to the Congress, of behaving in an autocratic manner.
Former union minister Yashwant Sinha sent a letter to Chacko on Oct 10 to remind him that though 22 days have elapsed since the last meeting, a decision on who all should testify before the the JPC is yet to be taken.
Chacko seems to have the "erroneous" impression that he has the full authority to decide on this matter, Sinha wrote. The BJP leader pointed out that Chacko has "only been authorised to finalise a shorter list of witnesses".
Sinha added that he and his party colleagues namely Ravi Shankar Prasad, Gopinath Munde, Jaswant Singh, Harin Pathak and Dharmendra Pradhan will not attend meetings of the panel until Chacko takes the "all-important" decision. Accordingly, all six MPs boycotted today's meeting.
In their absence, SP members of the panel raised the issue even though the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led party is supporting the UPA government from outside. Left MPs also joined the chorus. They said that Chidambaram must depose before the JPC.
Later, CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta compounded the discomfiture of the Congress members by strongly protesting against an intervention by ruling party MP Shashi Tharoor.
The latter tried to help an official who was finding it difficult to answer Dasgupta's probing questions. Stating that Tharoor's action was a violation of protocol, the CPI leader walked out.