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'Government's laughter in Parliament will haunt them'

March 24, 2011 11:48 IST

Sheela Bhatt reports that the UPA may have laughed on Wednesday, but they won't have the last laugh 

A day after smelling victory in defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party in its own game in Parliament, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government is feeling smug.

But a senior member of Parliament and a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the 2G spectrum scam told, "Their laughter in Parliament yesterday (on Wednesday) will haunt them."

The senior MP was talking about Congressmen's glee when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while taking a pot-shot at BJP leader L K Advani, said, 'Advani believed being the prime minister was his birthright and therefore has never forgiven me.'

The JPC's first meeting on the 2G spectrum scam will be held on Thursday at 3 pm in Parliament annexe.

Sources in the non-UPA parties say that sooner rather than later, officials in the Prime Minister's Office will be targeted. They say the role of TKA Nair, principal secretary to Dr Singh, will be questioned for sure.

The JPC is unlikely to run smooth for the government. However, JPC head P C Chacko has wider acceptance outside the Congress party, too. That's likely to help him run the show, which is going to be a veritable media circus in the coming months.

A senior non-Congress MP, while briefing about their focus in the JPC on the 2G spectrum scam, said, "This JPC is very important. We understand the issue and we will fight tooth and nail to corner the government. My question is: can you sell petrol, milk or even vegetables in 2009 at the price of 2002? This government did it in the name of continuation of NDA's policy. How can you sell a new product at the price of an old product, at old rates?"

He assured that all aspects of the prime minister's leadership vis-a-vis the Cabinet, his constitutional duties and responsibilities and any minister's role, limits and liabilities regarding policy decisions within the Union cabinet will come under scrutiny.

He said, "The country should know if Dr Singh is the CEO of the Cabinet or not. Can a Cabinet minister tell Dr Singh that 'my decision is not coming under your purview'? This has what exactly happened in the 2G spectrum scam."

It is reported that Dayanidhi Maran, A Raja's predecessor in the telecommunications ministry, had written to Dr Singh to this effect. He had also said that, 'Raja had given in writing to the Supreme Court that whatever he has done has been done with full knowledge of the prime minister'.

Who else will be the target of the Opposition members in the JPC, besides Dr Singh and the PMO? Even public sector banks, who lent money to 18 telecom operators when they rushed to apply for 2G spectrum, would come under review.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi