PM sad over parliament logjam, rules out JPC (Second Lead)

By Sarwar Kashani, IANS
Saturday, December 11, 2010

ON BOARD AIR INDIA ONE - Effectively rejecting the opposition demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said existing mechanisms could look into the controversial 2G spectrum allocation issue.

Breaking his silence over the deadlock in parliament over the opposition’s demand for a JPC, Manmohan Singh said he was “very sad” over the logjam.

“It is very sad that parliament is not functioning,” the prime minister told journalists travelling with him to Europe.

It was not a formal press conference. The prime minister came to meet the reporters on board the special aircraft on way to Berlin from Brussels, and was asked about the deadlock over the opposition demand for setting up a JPC into the 2G spectrum scam.

“I have repeatedly told the opposition that existing institutional mechanisms can take care of what a JPC can,” Manmohan Singh said.

With the government refusing to give in to the opposition demand, the controversy has led to the entire winter session of parliament being washed away due to protests and daily adjournments.

Asked when he would break his silence on the issue, the prime minister said: “In due course” of time.

The winter session of parliament, that began Nov 9, has been rendered dysfunctional due to the opposition demand for a JPC to probe the controversial allotment of airwaves to telecom companies in 2008, which is alleged to have caused huge losses to the exchequer. The session ends Monday.

The prime minister expressed his worry over parliament’s repeated collapse without conducting any business.

“I am worried about the future of the parliamentary system. I hope reason will prevail,” the prime minister said when asked what if the opposition carries over its protests to the next year’s budget session as it has threatened to do.

Asked about his undertaking a foreign tour with the problems back home, Manmohan Singh said prior commitments had to be kept if India wanted itself to be taken seriously.

“This was a pre-fixed appointment. It was decided long ago. It was an annual summit. Commitments have to be kept. Otherwise who will take us seriously?”

“In any case, nothing much is happening” in parliament, he said.

The prime minister’s remarks came a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party launched an offensive against him, saying he has “lost the will to rule.”

“In a democracy, the prime minister occupies a premier position. He cannot be absent from a national debate in or out of parliament, particularly when the whole country is extremely interested in knowing the truth. On crucial domestic issues, a prime minister should not be seen as losing his will to rule,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said Friday.

The prime minister was in Brussels to attend the India-European Union summit Friday. He arrives in India Sunday morning.

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