Opposition sticks to JPC, Pranab wants apology for parliament washout (Roundup)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

NEW DELHI - An unbending opposition Thursday remained unmoved by the government’s offer of a special parliament session to discuss the JPC issue, as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the opposition should “apologise” for the washout of the parliament’s winter session.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rejecting Mukherjee’s offer of a special session, said it did not want a debate but a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the 2G spectrum issue. The Left parties also expressed their reservations about the offer.

“We do not want a debate on the JPC but want the JPC,” senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told reporters.

On Wednesday, Mukherjee had said he was ready to call a special session of parliament to debate the need for a JPC probe into the spectrum scam, adding he was “sad” he could not end the winter session logjam.

On Thursday he slammed the opposition for not having let parliament function during the winter session, saying they should “apologise”.

“They have destroyed the institution. They should apologise to the nation,” Mukherjee told reporters here Thursday.

He pointed out that it was the opposition that had stopped parliament from functioning.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) raised doubts about Mukherjee’s offer, saying it had been made in a strange manner.

The opposition has been demanding a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum which caused huge losses to the national exchequer.

CPI-M leader Nilotpal Basu said the party had not taken a view on Mukherjee’s offer. “It has come in strange fashion,” Basu told IANS.

Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja said the JPC was a reasonable demand and it was for the government to explain why it was shying away.

Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had offered to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) but the opposition had rejected it, stating they were sticking to the demand for a JPC.

The Congress Thursday hit out at the opposition over their stance and accused them of trying to divert attention of the public from the success of the United Progressive Alliance government’s flagship programmes.

“The way the opposition is shying away from an open debate and discussion on 2G spectrum scam leads to doubts about its intention. If the opposition’s intention behind demanding a JPC probe is to drag the three-month inquiry for three years, then it certainly is suspicious,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.

Dwivedi also said that Mukherjee’s offer did not mean that a decision has already been taken about convening a special session of parliament to debate the 2G spectrum controversy. He said the finance minister’s offer reiterated the message that the party and government were always ready for a debate on the issue.

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