Government's effort to end impasse in Parliament by reaching out to BJP for early passage of key finance bills on Friday came a cropper as the opposition indicated that it is unlikely to cooperate unless it is assured that JPC chairman P C Chacko's draft report on 2G will be rejected.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath met NDA Working Chairperson L K Advani to find a way out of the stalemate. With only nine working days left in this session, Nath sought BJP's support to run the House to pass the Rail Budget and the Finance Bill.
Sources said Advani suggested that Nath discuss the issue with Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who is campaiging in Karnataka, on Monday. But he emphasised that BJP is firm that the controversial JPC draft report on 2G spectrum scam should not be adopted.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said "confrontation and cooperation" cannot go hand in hand. He maintained that the CBI affidavit on the coal probe status report had "smashed" the government's claim that there is no interference in the probe agency's functioning.
All these issues will be raised by BJP in Parliament, he said.
BJP also trashed the Congress demand to the Lok Sabha Speaker that three JPC members, namely, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Ravi Shankar Prasad be removed from the panel as they were a part of the Group of Ministers that looked into the telecom policy during the NDA regime.
The continuing stand-off may force the government to get the Finance Bill and the Rail Budget passed in the din.
BJP is especialy miffed by the allegation in the JPC report that the telecom policy followed by the erstwhile Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had led to the loss of Rs 42,000 crore.
The Congress demand for expulsion of the three BJP members from the JPC has aggravated the crisis.
Jaswant Singh dismissed this Congress demand as one borne out of "frustration, incompetence and feeble memory".
"The Congress party came up with a bizzare and most outlandish demand that three members of the JPC be expelled from this committee on grounds of alleged conflict of interest. This is entirely untenable. It is two years too late," he said.
Singh pointed out that in the very first meeting of the JPC, he and Sinha had volunteered that if there is any objection they would "happily withdraw" from the Committee.
However, when Chacko referred the matter to the Lok Sabha Speaker she ruled that since no objections were raised when the three BJP leaders were elected to the JPC in the
House and since there is no "personal, pecuniary or direct interest" of these members in the matter being considered by the panel, they should continue.
Singh alleged that Congress demand had come in the wake of 15 JPC members meeting Speaker Meira Kumar to express "total lack of confidence" in Chacko. They demanded that he should be removed from the post of chairperson of the panel and another member be appointed in his place.
The CBI affidavit in the Supreme Court today gave a shot in the arm to the BJP. Singh said the agency has accepted that the status report on coal scam was "shared" with the law minister "as desired by him".
"It is clearly evident that there was political interference and premature disclosure of the report to the officials of the PMO, Law and Coal ministry. This is a violation of the Supreme Court's directives," he said.
BJP demanded that the prime minister, law minister and the coal minister explain clearly their conduct in this matter to Parliament.
Jaitley sought to know if the CBI report was "tweaked or altered" by the law minister and what was the level of interference. He said the earlier drafts of the report should be checked to find this out and insisted that the government make a categorical statement on whether any emails on this issue were exchanged between the PMO and the Coal ministry.