Congress tries to find a way out of the logjam

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee made a fresh appeal to all political parties to end the impasse and let the parliamentary proceedings resume.

The government, however, continued to reject the demand of the BJP and other Opposition parties to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the 2G scam and remained firm on its position that the Public Accounts Committee was the appropriate body to examine the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the issue.

“I am deeply concerned about the situation which is being created where Parliament cannot transact its business. Therefore, I appeal to all political parties to try find a solution,” Mukherjee said.

As the Opposition continued to insist on a probe by the JPC, the Congress top leaders are expected to meet once again on Sunday to weigh its options in the wake of the stalemate in Parliament.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her political secretary Ahmed Patel, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony and Mukherjee are likely to explore the possible way outs for the government, while sources said that a proposal for adjournment of both Houses of  Parliament sine die might also be discussed.
The Congress said the government and the Opposition had equal responsibility to run Parliament.

“Responsibility of running Parliament lies with every political party that has members in the House. Hence, placing the onus on the government alone is erroneous, misconceived and misplaced,” said All India Congress Committee spokesman Manish Tiwari.

In a meeting on Thursday, the Congress top brass rejected a proposal to accept the Opposition’s demand and set up a JPC with a wider mandate to probe not only the 2G scam, but also awards of all telecom licences since the 1990s, so as to bring telecom ministers of the BJP-led NDA governments under the purview of the inquiry.

Sources said the party was still not ready to go for a JPC, as it would not only be seen a victory of the BJP, but would also prompt the Opposition to make similar demands in future.

Parliament witnessed uproar over the issue of corruption in 2G ever since its winter session began on November 9. Both the Houses hardly transacted any business over the past two weeks, as the Opposition stalled the proceedings demanding a JPC probe into the scam.

As Opposition members continued to protests even on Friday, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned till Monday with very little business being transacted.
“The government has repeatedly said and I am reiterating that we are ready for discussion on any issue at any point of time in the House,” said Tiwari, criticising the Opposition for stalling the parliamentary proceedings.

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