Stand-off on, Govt refuses to budge on JPC

Stand-off on, Govt refuses to budge on JPC

The government's intention was made clear by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee when CPI(M)leader Sitaram Yechury met him this morning to know his response to the Opposition demand.

The government stuck to its position even as Parliament failed to function on the eighth consecutive day because of the stand-off. The Opposition members created pandemonium in both Houses of Parliament.

Congress sought to take the sting out of the Opposition attack by raising the corruption charges against Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa.

"All I can say is that the deadlock continues," Yechury told reporters after meeting Mukherjee to know the government stand as the Finance Minister had promised yesterday to get back to the Opposition on JPC demand after consulting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Yechury said Mukherjee told him that government was firm on its stand of 'no JPC'. He said the Opposition has also stuck to its demand for a JPC probe.

Noting that the "stalemate is continuing", Mukherjee termed it as an "unfortunate" situation and said "let us see how we can break the stalemate."

Mukherjee referred to his meeting with leaders of opposition parties yesterday's and said "we could not arrive at a solution."

He pointed out that the government had suggested that a multi-disciplinary team would be attached with the PAC to investigate the matter but it was rejected.

Asked when the deadlock could end, the Leader of the Lok Sabha said, "you will come to know as soon as it is broken."

A senior minister, meanwhile, said efforts were on to end the impasse in Parliament.
Amidst the stand-off, a section of Congressmen was also in favour of a JPC probe so that the House could resume its normal functioning.

"We will have to agree to a JPC either now or later. A number of party MPs also feel that there is no harm in accepting the Opposition demand," a minister belonging to Congress said.

Another young Congress MP also said that there was a view in a section of the party that there was no harm in ordering a JPC probe.

Meanwhile, a senior minister scotched speculation that the winter session could be truncated.

As both the government and Opposition stuck to their positions, Parliament could not function for the eighth consecutive day as the Opposition created pandemonium over it.

Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned for the day without transacting any substantive business in the wake of unruly scenes created by all the Opposition parties while the Congress was seeking dismissal of Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa over corruption charges.

It was trouble from word go in both the Houses, forcing adjournment initially till noon and then for the day.

In the Lok Sabha, members from Opposition parties including those from the BJP, BJD, JD(U), SP trooped into the well demanding setting up of Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe reports of irregularities in allocation of 2G spectrum.

The Treasury benches, in turn, demanded resignation of Yeddyurappa over corruption charges.

Some Congress members almost rushed to the well, chanting slogans against Yeddyurappa and carrying placards which read 'Book Bellary Brothers' and 'Punish Yeddyurappa to Protect Karnataka from Mining Mafia and Land Grabbers'.
They were asked to retreat to the aisles by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Trinamool Congress members were seen waving the list of questions indicating their willingness for normal business.

Slogans and counter-slogans went on for a while before Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House till noon.

When the House assembled again, similar scenes were witnessed. Amid the din, papers and reports were laid on the table after which the House was adjourned for the day.
The standoff was also witnessed in the Rajya Sabha where Opposition members rushed to the well soon after Chairman Hamid Ansari completed obituary references.
Congress members too moved into the aisles demanding sacking of Yeddyurappa over alleged land scam in the state.

While Opposition members shouted "We Want JPC", members in the Treasury benches held placards reading 'Sack Yeddyurappa' and 'Book Bellary Brothers'.

AIADMK members held copies of a magazine carrying a cover story on former Telecom Minister A Raja's alleged role in the irregularities in allocation of 2G telecom spectrum.
Ansari took up the listed question of the day and asked members not to display placards.
"No raising of posters," he said, but the protesting members refused to relent, forcing him to adjourn the House till 1200 hours.

Similar scenes were repeated when the House met again. Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan, who was in the Chair, kept pleading that the members should not show placards but they did not oblige.

Due to the impasse over 2G spectrum issue, Parliament has failed to function since November 10, a day after the Winter Session commenced.

Yechury termed as "unprecedented" the government's suggestion to attach a team of investigators from various agencies to the PAC.

"It is unprecedented. Such a thing has not happened before. What will be the legal implications, we don't know. We are also not able to understand how these investigators would be able to study the manipulation of the system and recommend measures to plug the loopholes," he told reporters later.

The Marxist leader said the PAC would "only go by the paragraphs of the CAG report" on the 2G spectrum scam and "not beyond".

On the other hand, a JPC had the powers to understand how the system was manipulated to cause "this huge loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer and examine why and how it has happened".

It can also recommend steps to strengthen the regulatory mechanism or new law or laws in this regard, Yechury said, adding, "But the government continues to stick to its 'no JPC' stance."

He said there was continued disruption of Parliament when the previous JPCs were established. While the House was disrupted for 45 days after which a JPC on Bofors gun deal scam was set up, the disruption continued for 17 days for the Harshad Mehta securities scam and 14 days for Ketan Parikh scam.

"Nine days of disruption have gone by now. We would like to see whether the government wants to maintain this tradition or break it," Yechury said in a lighter vein.
He said the JPC formed after the Harshad Mehta scam had recommended several serious measures to strengthen the financial system, many of which have been implemented.
"We continue to demand setting up of a JPC in the spectrum scam. The ball is now in the government's court. They have to respond," the CPI(M) leader said.

Asked whether the government had any plan to adjourn the House sine die before schedule, he said, "If that happens, it will be the first time in India's parliamentary history that the House will be adjourned without transacting any business."

On whether the recent alleged taped conversations between a lobbyist and media personalities should be probed, Yechury said "that will definitely be part of the investigations." 

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