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2G scam: All-party meet fails to break Parliament logjam over JPC demand

Source: PTI
November 16, 2010 17:04 IST
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An all-party meeting on Tuesday failed to break the stalemate in Parliament over the demand for a joint parliamentary committee into the 2G spectrum scam, leaving no immediate signs for return of normalcy in both Houses that have remained paralysed for four days.

All that Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who had convened the luncheon meeting, told the leaders was that he will get back to them after taking up the matter with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. The meeting, attended by several leaders including Leaders of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha, could not make headway, with the opposition remaining adamant on the JPC demand.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, Janata Dal-United, Shiv Sena and Samajwadi Party wanted a JPC and no other opposition party opposed the demand, said Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, who sought the setting up of an inquiry commission. Singh said the government insisted that the public accounts committee could do a great job in finding out the truth in the matter and the JPC will be out of place in this issue.

Mukherjee, who is the leader of the Lok Sabha, convened the meeting as the government's hopes of normalcy returning to Parliament after the resignation of Telecom Minister A Raja proved futile and the opposition remained belligerent on the JPC demand.

Trinamool Congress, the second largest ally of the Congress in the United Progressive Alliance, however, suggested a discussion in the House and said that if the majority wanted a JPC, it should be constituted.

The Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam, whose member A Raja had to quit as telecom minister over the 2G issue, said it would go by the government's decision in the matter.

"No solution on the JPC," said Mukherjee after the meeting.

"We want the House to run. We do not want disruptions. We are not averse to the JPC," said Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member Sitaram Yechury and Communist Party of India's D Raja

D Raja and Yechury said that though they were willing to consider any other "credible form" of inquiry, they felt the PAC would not serve a purpose. They threw the ball in the government's court over breaking the impasse.

Government managers, however, said the opposition appeared confused on the JPC and it was not clear whether to have one or three JPCs to probe Mumbai's Adarsh Society housing scam, the Commonwealth Games mess and 2G spectrum allocation.

In the meeting, Mukherjee appealed to the opposition to get back to business, ruing that so many days have already been wasted due to disruptions. He later told reporters that while the opposition parties were insisting on having a JPC, he explained to them the difficulties in instituting such a probe. "I told them that the issue has to be discussed within the government and within the party and I will get back to them on Wednesday," he said.

The meeting saw Mukherjee strongly objecting to the opposition's demand for a JPC into Adarsh housing issue, which led to the resignation of Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra chief minister, saying it was a state matter and could not be taken up by a JPC.

Opposition members, however, argued that it is still to be made clear whether the particular land belonged to the state government or the defence ministry.

After the meeting, Yechury said there was no alternative offered by the government and no suggestion made on how to proceed with investigations into all the three issues. Stressing that a JPC into the 2G scam was "the best way out", the CPI-M leader said the PAC inquiry would not be sufficient as it would not be able to go beyond the Comptroller and Auditor General of India report.

"The JPC would be able to go into reasons and factors, which led to certain decisions, why such decisions were taken and who was responsible. These issues are outside the purview of the PAC," Yechury said.

The Biju Janta Dal, however, favoured constituting a commission of inquiry to probe the matter. Jaitley said, "Conflicting viewpoints were discussed in the meeting. We will meet again."

Nationalist Congress Party leader and Union aviation minister Praful Patel said while the opposition has its own set of demands, there were other pressing issues, which were being neglected in Parliament due to frequent disturbances. Meanwhile, sources in the government say the case was already being investigated by various agencies including the Central Bureau of Investigation.

"What more will the JPC achieve? Multiplicity of investigations will only lead to overlapping," a senior minister said.
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