Parliament adjourned for week over 2G spectrum scam, Raja (Second Lead)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NEW DELHI - The deadlock between the government and opposition over alleged corruption in 2G spectrum allocation and IT Minister A. Raja worsened Thursday with both houses of parliament adjourned for the week without any business being transacted for the second consecutive day.

BJP and other opposition MPs threatened not to let parliament function till Communications and IT Minister Raja, who allegedly sold 2G spectrum in 2008 at lower prices than the market rates, was sacked.

The scam is said to have caused a loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore to the government.

Thursday was the third day of the over one-month-long winter session that ends Dec 13 with a scheduled 24 sittings. The session began Nov 9.

Noisy protests rocked the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Thursday morning, a day after both houses were adjourned without any legislative business being conducted following the opposition demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam. They also raised the issues of corruption in Mumbais Adarsh housing society and the Commonwealth Games.

In the Lok Sabha, ruling Congress MPs tried to counter the protests as some of them demonstrated near Speaker Meira Kumar’s podium against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader K.S. Sudarshan’s remarks against Sonia Gandhi reported in a Hindi newspaper.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members walked towards her podium raising slogans to demand Raja’s ouster as soon as Meira Kumar, after an hour-long adjournment in the morning, resumed the Lok Sabha sitting at 12 noon.

MPs from the AIADMK, Shiv Sena and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) joined the protests even as Left members were seen shouting slogans from their seats.

Congress MPs countered the BJP protests as some of them walked towards the podium shouting slogans against the RSS.

The din forced the speaker to adjourn the house till Monday morning as Friday — being Chhath festival — is already an off day for parliament.

Similar scenes rocked the Rajya Sabha, where Congress members vehemently protested Sudarshan’s reported comment. The BJP and AIADMK members in the Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, demanded the dismissal of Raja because he has been “indicted” by the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) for his role in the 2G spectrum allocation.

Chairman Hamid Ansari repeatedly asked members to return to their seats. His appeals fell on deaf ears and he too adjourned the house till Monday.

As an adamant opposition refused to let the houses function, the government ruled out a JPC probe into the controversial 2G spectrum allotment.

Rejecting the opposition demands, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said “there is no need for a JPC inquiry” as a report by the CAG on the issue would be tabled in parliament soon.

The CAG report was submitted to the government Wednesday and is believed to have indicted Raja.

“The report will become the property of parliament and will be studied by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament to recommend any action if needed,” Bansal told reporters.

He said the BJP demand for a JPC probe was “uncalled for because the PAC is headed by none other than their Murli Manohar Joshi”.

“They (BJP members) are disrupting the house because they know the PAC will find no substance to target Raja in the CAG report,” he said, adding that the minister had done nothing wrong.

“He has violated no rules,” Bansal said.

The BJP said the opposition cannot be a mute spectator to the scams.

Parliament is a forum where we can make our voices heard and we have a right to protest. We wont allow the houses to function till the government acts against Raja, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley told reporters.

AIADMK leader V. Maitreyan said he had seen a copy of the CAG report indicting Raja. He has no right to continue, Maitreyan said.

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