JPC deadlock persists but speaker hopes for smooth budget session

Friday, December 31, 2010

NEW DELHI - The two-day talks between the government and opposition parties to resolve the impasse over the demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam failed to find a solution though Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar noted party leaders were keen to ensure that parliament’s budget session is not disrupted.

After the second day of talks between the government and opposition leaders, Meira Kumar said that the two sides did not want a repeat of the winter session (Nov 9-Dec 13) which was marked by daily disruptions and adjournments following the stalemate over the JPC.

Leaders from the Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Janata Dal-United, AIADMK, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Nationalist Congress Party were among those who attended Friday’s luncheon meeting at Meira Kumar’s residence. Leaders from Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party did not attend the meeting, source said.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal were also present.

The speaker said that the two sides will sit down again to find a solution.

“Leaders of the ruling and opposition parties have met in a cordial atmosphere. They decided to ensure that the next session goes without interruption. They expressed great concern that previous session was not able to run and they do not want the same to be repeated. They will sit down and together find a solution,” she said after the meeting.

JD-U leader and NDA convener Sharad Yadav later said the entire opposition, including the Left pressed, its demand for the JPC.

“All the opposition parties said that JPC should be constituted,” he said.

Answering queries about the likely solution, he said the “middle ground has not been found as yet” but nobody wants parliament not to function.

“But parliament should come into action as the loot has been massive. Parliament cannot remain neutral to such an issue. JPCs have been formed in the past. The government should form JPC,” Yadav said.

Noting the government wanted that the political parties should discuss the need for a JPC in the house, he said discussions on corruption had taken place several times in the recent past. “What is the outcome,” he asked.

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said Mukherjee, who is leader of the house in Lok Sabha, should find a solution so that parliament can function normally.

RLD leader Ajit Singh said that all parties wanted the house to run and the opposition parties insisted on their demand for JPC.

“How a way will be found, it has not been decided yet,” Singh said, adding there would be more meetings on the issue.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had Thursday reiterated its demand for JPC after the talks on the first day of the luncheon meetings, called on the initiative of Meira Kumar to break the impasse following near wash out of the winter session.

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

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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