NEW DELHI, March 7 (IANS) - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday accepted "full responsibility" for the controversial appointment of P.J. Thomas as chief vigilance commissioner after Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj prodded him to admit "an error of judgment" in the selection, which the Supreme Court has overturned.
Amid drama in the house, Manmohan Singh in his brief statement initially didn't use the phrase "full responsibility" on the appointment that the Supreme Court struck down Thursday.
This was vehemently objected to by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj.
As soon as the prime minister finished reading from a paper, Sushma Swaraj rose from her seat and said she was surprised at the differing statements Manmohan Singh made in Jammu on Friday and in the Lok Sabha Monday.
Sushma Swaraj said the statement made in the Lok Sabha had not a single word from what the Prime Minister said in Jammu.
"I was expecting the same statement in the Lok Sabha. In Jammu, you said you accept the responsibility but today nothing like this came from you," the BJP leader said.
Then the Prime Minister stood for the second time and said: "I have no hesitation in repeating what I said in Jammu. Obviously there has been an error of judgment and I accept the full responsibility."
Congress MPs thumped their desks at this as the BJP leader was seen exchanging smiles with her colleagues.
Manmohan Singh also admitted that Sushma Swaraj - one of the members of the high power panel that approved the appointment of Thomas - had given a "dissenting note" to oppose his selection.
The Prime Minister and Home Minister P. Chidambaram were the other two members of the committee.
"In pursuance of the recommendations made by the committee, the president appointed P.J. Thomas as the CVC and he was sworn in," he read from the statement.
He said two public interest litigation petitions were filed in the Supreme Court challenging the appointment.
"The Supreme Court declared the recommendation of the committee as non-est in law and quashed the appointment... The Supreme Court has pronounced its decision. We accept and respect the verdict of the Supreme Court. The government will take into consideration the guidelines and directions given by the court while appointing a new CVC," Manmohan Singh said.
Thomas' appointment was termed illegal by the Supreme Court Thursday.