Let parliament function, Mukherjee appeals, but rules out JPC

Saturday, December 4, 2010

KOLKATA - Union Finance Minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee Saturday appealed to the opposition to let parliament function smoothly, but ruled out a parliamentary probe into the allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008.

Even at the last moment I am appealing to them (opposition) to come back to the floor of the house. Let the whole issue be debated. Let them say whatever they want to say on the floor of the house, and the government will also come out (with its views), Mukherjee, who has been holding repeated parleys with the opposition to resolve the logjam in parliament, told mediapersons here.

Proceedings in both houses of parliament have been disrupted for 15 days at a stretch over the oppositions demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe on the 2G spectrum allocation.

Mukherjee, considered the number two in Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs cabinet and the key troubleshooter of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) dispensation, said the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament was the right body to go into the Comptroller and Auditor Generals report on the alleged scam.

PAC itself is a JPC. I dont understand why two JPCs should be there to look into the same matter, he said.

Mukherjee said as soon as the CAG report came out it was referred to the PAC, which comprises 22 members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The PAC is headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi.

This is a permanent JPC. PAC is not coming from heaven. Each of the members are members of parliament. And it is the constitutional responsibility of the PAC to look into the report of the CAG, he said.

The veteran minister said he has already held two meetings with the opposition, while Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar called a meeting of all political parties. Several rounds of formal and informal discussions have also taken place.

Referring to the alleged irregularities related to the Commonwealth Games, Mukherjee said: As soon as the Games were over, the prime minister appointed a former CAG to look into the irregularities in the entire gamut of the Commonwealth Games.

Thereafter agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Income Tax department and the Enforcement Directorate are engaged in the investigation process. Side by side all other relevant inquiries are going on We have already started investigation in respect of all matters of concern, he added.

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