Senior Congress leaders admit that the JPC issue has boomeranged against the party, reports Renu Mittal.
The Congress and P C Chacko, chairman of Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the 2G spectrum allocation scam, have done the impossible task: to unite the opposition against it as never before. So much so that archrivals like the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham and the DMK, the Trinamool Congress and the Left, and the BJP -- all came together, met Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and demanded Chacko’s removal.
The 15 opposition members of the JPC met the speaker and later were hosted for lunch by Biju Janata Dal member of the JPC, Arjun Charan Sethi, in a move which spells political trouble for the Congress party.
Those who did not sign include the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, with the remaining political parties going against the Congress and the manner in which a ‘clean chit’ was given to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the JPC draft report.
What was even more interesting was AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, who was critical against then Telecom Minister A Raja, also sided with the DMK in opposing the Congress party.
The Congress later hit back with six of its members writing to Speaker Meira Kumar demanding that BJP’s Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Ravi Shanker Prasad should be removed from the JPC citing conflict of interest as “they have been associated with telecom decisions in the past”.
Analysts say that if the “conflict” was of a serious nature, the Congress should have raised the objection when they were first appointed to the JPC, and not at this stage when the committee is concluding its deliberations.
The BJP’s main objection is to why former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been dragged into the entire issue.
He said it is not only the opposition parties’ responsibility to run the house and was non committal on whether the opposition would allow Parliament to function for some time, at least to pass the finance bill.
Thursday’s scheduled meeting of the JPC to pass the draft report was cancelled as Lok Sabha member of Trinamool Congress, Ambica Banerjee, passed away earlier in the day and the House was adjourned.
But with both sides at war, it was doubtful whether the meeting could have been held at all. The JPC has 30 members including the chairman, and with 15 members having expressed “no-confidence” in P C Chacko, the arithmetic has become a little dicey.
The term of the JPC ends on May 10, which is also the last day of the Budget Session of the Parliament. So while an extension is ruled out, there appears to be no way of sorting out the mess which the JPC has landed itself in.
While one side would claim the report has been accepted, the opposition would say it has been rejected since the numbers are evenly balanced out at the moment.
Even if Congress legally wins the case in JPC, the credibility of its draft report will always be doubted.
Soon after the House was adjourned, senior Congress leaders went into a huddle led by party president Sonia Gandhi, and Chacko, Kamal Nath and Sushilkumar Shinde, other members of the core committee, were called in the meeting.
Senior Congress leaders admit that the party miscalculated as the idea was to push through the draft report, but the matter was badly handled and boomeranged against the party.
In the process Congress ended up ensuring that warring political parties came together against them, sending out a message of opposition unity with BJP having the loudest voice.