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No JPC probe in spectrum scandal: Pranab

By Onkar Singh
November 15, 2010 14:48 IST

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday hit out at Opposition parties for stalling the proceedings of Parliament, after their demand for a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee into the spectrum scandal was not accepted by the government.

Reacting to a question on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would make a statement on the resignation of Telecom Minister A Raja over the 2G spectrum scam, Pranab lost his cool.

"Ministers come and go but the prime minister does not make a statement on such issues. Did (former prime minister) Atal Bihari Vajpayee make a statement when (defence minister) George Fernandes resigned," he asked.

"Why should the prime minister make a statement in Parliament? It is the privilege of the minister to make a statement on the floor of the House. If Raja wants to make a statement, he can do so," Mukherjee said.

On why the government is not accepting the Opposition's demand for a JPC, he said, "How many JPC probes did the National Democratic Alliance government agree to in its six-year rule," he asked.

"Already, a sub-committee headed by the former comptroller and auditor general is going into the telecom deals. Then the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate are also investigating the matter. We have a permanent JPC called the Public Accounts Committee, then where is the need for another probe," he said.

When asked on the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam's statement -- that the telecom portfolio will remain with the party -- Mukherjee said that the distribution of ministerial portfolios is the prerogative of the prime minister and he will take the final call on the matter.

Mukherjee, who is the Leader of the Lok Sabha, said, "The JPC demand is absolutely unacceptable. During their six-year tenure, how many JPCs had they (the National Democratic Alliance) agreed to including on Tehelka (issue)?"

"We are destroying all the institutions," he lamented soon after Parliament was adjourned for the fourth day following Opposition uproar in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the JPC issue.

"How will the system function? They (BJP) are also running governments in different parts of the country. This is totally a sad affair," he remarked.

Home Minister P Chidambaram also dismissed the demand for a JPC as 'meaningless'.

"The demand for JPC is completely meaningless. Let BJP allow the House to run," Chidambaram told reporters.

With regard to alleged irregularities in the Commonwealth Games, Mukherjee said that besides a probe by a former comptroller and auditor general, various other investigating agencies like the CBI were also investing it.

Chidambaram said the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General will be referred to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, which comprises members of all political parties.

Mukherjee is scheduled to hold a luncheon meeting with leaders of political parties on Tuesday in the backdrop of a stalemate in Parliament on the spectrum issue.

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Onkar Singh In New Delhi