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Chopper deal: BJP undecided over joining JPC probe

Dalip Singh, New Delhi, Mar 4, 2013, DHNS: 0:28 IST
The BJP appears to have found itself in a catch-22 situation over its participation in the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), constituted to investigate into bribery charges in the VVIP helicopter deal.

If the BJP decides against joining the JPC, given their stand that the committee was eyewash since the CBI has not even registered an FIR, the party MPs will find it difficult to prove the charges. The BJP is weighing its options, said party sources.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain on Monday said party leaders are yet to decide on the MPs who will join the JPC. “We will let you know at the right time,” Hussain said.

The business listed in the Lok Sabha featured a message from the Rajya Sabha regarding the appointment of a joint committee of both Houses to inquire into the bribery charges.

It was learnt that since the government has already announced the JPC, the standing committee on defence dropped the issue, originally listed for a meeting held on Monday.

A Trinamool Congress MP had written to committee chairman Raj Babbar, requesting him to take up the defence deal for investigation. Babbar had agreed, but dropped the matter after the government’s announcement, sources said.

“This is the same government which was so hesitant in forming the JPC earlier. Why are they so keen on a JPC probe into the VVIP chopper deal?” Hussain questioned.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely had opposed formation of the JPC during a debate in the House on Thursday. Dubbing it an “exercise in futility,” Jaitely said the JPC will not be able to register a case, conduct raids, extradite or interrogate people. “Is the government willing to have a JPC headed by an opposition MP?” Jaitley had said.

The government and the Congress agreed upon the JPC after being convinced that none of the party members were involved in the alleged scam, sources said.
According to the Congress’ assesment, some middlemen might have connived with the defence ministry and other officials.

The BJP, in its economic resolution passed by the national council on Saturday, said: “The government is offering the JPC, knowing well that it cannot investigate and come to a conclusion. This fuels speculation that the government is more interested in ensuring an eyewash to protect the bribe-takers instead of finding the truth and punishing the guilty.”

While the government has already announced names of the Rajya Sabha MPs from the Congress, SP, BSP and CPM, who will be part of the JPC, the parties have to give the names of the Lok Sabha members. Some parties like the JD(U), TMC, AIADMK and BJD are opposed to it.

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