JPC feud may now affect panel to probe copter deal

JPC feud may now affect panel to probe copter deal

 With the leaked JPC draft report on 2G strengthening the Opposition parties suspicion that it did a ‘cover up job,’  the fate of another parliamentary panel announced last month to probe allegations of bribe in purchase of Agustawestland helicopters remains uncertain.

The UPA government, embarrassed over the helicopter contract expose, had announced in the Rajya Sabha before Parliament went into recess early last month that a 30-member JPC would be set up to probe the Rs 3,600-crore Agustawestland deal for supplying 12 choppers for the movement of VVIPs. Even at the time of making public the UPA’s decision to form the JPC in Rajya Sabha, Opposition parties like the BJP, TMC and the AIADMK had walked out of the House on what Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitely had charged was “an exercise in futility and a diversionary tactics.”

The JPC will draw 10 members from the Upper House and remaining 20 MPs from the Lower House, apart from being okayed by the Lok Sabha when Parliament reopens on Monday. Of the ten members, the names of seven – three from the Congress and one each from the NCP, CPM, BSP and SP – were released at the same time.

Interestingly, the CPM which decided to participate in the JPC on the copter deal may have second thoughts on remaining in the panel if the entire Opposition does not come on board. At the least the BJP is not very keen on joining it knowing fully the outcome of the findings as it happened on the JPC in 2G.

Rajya Sabha MP of the CPM from Tamil Nadu T K Rangarajan, who is a member of the committee, told Deccan Herald that the JPC on the helicopter scam was not complete. It had to have other members also and consent of the Lok Sabha.  When asked whether the party thought that the JPC on helicopters would be able to discharge its function in a neutral and unbiased manner as some parties already had their reservation on it,  Rangarajan said “our party had already communicated to the government that if the entire Opposition is not put on the panel, we will withdraw from it.”

It will be difficult for the government now to convince non-UPA parties to come on board the JPC on the chopper deal, given the sharp criticism on the leaked draft 2G report from the BJP and the Left parties. 

The BJP parliamentary board would meet on Saturday morning and the leaders would decide on the important issues to be taken up in Parliament.

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