Oppn goes for the jugular, demands JPC investigation

In an important development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal additional charge of telecom. Thus, at least for now, a minister belonging to the Congress, not the DMK, will handle the telecom portfolio. With this, it is almost clear that there will be no reshuffle of the Union Cabinet in the immediate future, at least till the end of the Parliament session in December third week. Normally, Cabinet reshuffle does not take place during Parliament sessions.

As the Opposition disrupted Parliament proceedings for the second successive week demanding JPC probe not only into the telecom scam but also the Commonwealth Games and Adarsh society scandals, Lok Sabha Leader and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has convened a luncheon meeting with all parties on Tuesday to break the deadlock.

As the standoff continued, the prime minister did not make any statement in Parliament on Monday, which the government had offered. The government, however, is likely to place in Parliament on Tuesday the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) report on the telecom scam.

The CAG is understood to have found that the government lost revenue to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore in the spectrum allotment.

The Opposition made it clear that it will not back off from the demand for a JPC probe. “We demand a JPC probe into the three scams. We stand by it. There will be no compromise till the JPC is formed,” Deputy-Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha S S Ahluwalia told reporters here.

Rejecting the demand for JPC probe, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the findings of the CAG would be referred to the public accounts committee (PAC), which has representation of all parties. “The CAG report will go to the PAC. What is PAC? It is chaired by a BJP leader (Murli Manohar Joshi) and all political parties are represented in that,” Chidambaram said.

Ahluwalia said: “The PAC basically does a paragraph-wise postmortem of the CAG report. It does not probe. The terms of reference of JPC are mandated by the house.” He said though the Bofors case was looked into by the CAG, a JPC was constituted.

However, on Monday, some Congressmen claimed that the BJP had dropped hints that as a compromise, it was ready for a discussion on the telecom issue in Parliament.

Comments (+)