At Meira Kumar’s luncheon meeting, BJP sticks to JPC demand

Thursday, December 30, 2010

NEW DELHI - A luncheon meeting called by Speaker Meira Kumar with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday to break the impasse over the 2G spectrum scam ended predictably - with the opposition party sticking to its demand for a JPC.

“We want a JPC (joint parliamentary committee),” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said after the meeting.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who took the initiative to call the informal meeting between the opposition parties and the government, expressed hope of something positive emerging from the meeting.

The luncheon meeting Thursday was attended by senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj, while Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy represented the government.

While BJP leaders attended the meeting Thursday, the Left and other opposition leaders will meet the speaker Friday.

Kumar said after the meeting that she hoped “something positive” will emerge from talks between the government and opposition on resolving the stalemate over the opposition’s demand for a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum scam.

“I am fully convinced that democracy is very mature. There might be ups and downs, but whether leader of the ruling party or leader of opposition, they are all very committed to ensure that parliament runs,” said Kumar.

Mukherjee last week suggested convening a special session of parliament to discuss the issue of JPC, but the opposition rejected the proposal.

The opposition has insisted on its demand for a JPC probe into the scandal, but the government has maintained that the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report on the 2G spectrum allocation to telecom companies in 2008 at below-market prices was being looked into by parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

A multi-level probe was also being conducted simultaneously, the government said.

The speaker last week made a fresh appeal to the parties to find a solution to the impasse over the opposition demand for a JPC probe.

She earlier held a meeting with leaders from all parties but it yielded no breakthrough.

The Nov 9-Dec 13 winter session of parliament was washed out following the stalemate over the opposition’s demand for a JPC probe.

The government made several offers to break the logjam. The opposition has threatened to carry forward its protest to the budget session that begins in the last week of February 2011.

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