Opposition firm on JPC probe

Opposition firm on JPC probe

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. PTI Photo

The BJP and other Opposition parties continued to insist on a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the scam even as an all-party meet convened by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee failed to end the impasse.

Mukherjee, who was authorised by the Congress core group on Sunday to hold parleys with an adamant Opposition, promised to get back  after conveying their sentiments to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“We will settle for nothing less than the JPC,” Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, told journalists after the all-party meet.

The Congress, which is still reluctant to go for a JPC probe, blamed the BJP and other opposition parties for “devaluing the PAC of Parliament”.

The PAC is currently headed by veteran BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi. It consists of 22 MPs–14 from the Lok Sabha and seven from the Rajya Sabha.

Mukherjee, who is also the leader of the Lok Sabha, convened a meeting of all political parties after both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were adjourned amid ruckus over the telecom scam. It was the seventh consecutive day that the Opposition stalled parliamentary proceedings demanding a JPC probe into the scam.

The finance minister is understood to have told the Opposition leaders that the government was ready to have multi-disciplinary investigating agencies probing the alleged scam. They will also assist the PAC to look into Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the spectrum allocations.

But the Opposition did not climb down from its demand. Besides Sushma, Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav, CPI leader D Raja and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav were among others who attended the meeting convened by the finance minister.

Mukherjee is understood to have told the Opposition leaders that the government alone was not responsible to run Parliament and the Opposition should also play a responsible role. He conveyed the prime minister’s appeal to the Opposition to cooperate with the government to resume the normal functioning of both Houses of Parliament.

Though the government is still averse to set-up a JPC to probe the telecom scam, it has come under intense pressure in the wake of the Opposition’s continued insistence.

Sources in the Congress said the ruling party’s top brass was now weighing options that also included setting up a JPC with a wider mandate to probe award of all telecom licences since 1998.

Arming the JPC with a broader mandate would mean that it could dig into not only the 2G allocations, but also the functioning of the ministry of communication and information technology during the BJP-led NDA regime. NDA convenor Sharad Yadav said on Monday that the Opposition alliance had no objection such a probe.

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