Top Congress leaders discuss budget session amid JPC indications

Monday, February 14, 2011

NEW DELHI - Top Congress leaders, including party chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday, held talks on the forthcoming budget session of parliament amid indications that the government may agree to the opposition’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum controversy after a discussion in the house.

Party sources said the meeting discussed the outcome of the Feb 8 meeting between the government and the opposition to find a way out of the logjam over the JPC demand that led to the washout of the winter session of parliament.

The sources said that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee apprised the prime minister and the party president about his talks with opposition leaders at the Feb 8 meeting. Mukherjee had said at the meeting that nothing was dearer to the government than running parliament smoothly.

Congress sources said it was important for the party that parliament functions and if the only way to make the two houses run was agreeing to JPC, the demand may be conceded.

The party, however, insisted at its official briefing Monday that the JPC demand should be discussed in parliament.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the opposition has been articulating the JPC demand for quite some time but it should not become a subterfuge to run away from debate.

“Let the matter be discussed threadbare on the floor of the house that this is a fair demand,” Tewari said.

Referring to the Feb 8 meeting, Tewari said the party’s position was explained at the interaction.

He said it is for the government and opposition to find a solution to the logjam in parliament over the JPC demand.

Congress sources said if the opposition did not want to climb down from its demand for a JPC, the least they should do is allow a full-fledged debate.

The sources said the debate will allow the Congress to “expose the selective leaks and innuendos essentially aimed at covering up what happened between 1999 to 2004 concerning allocation of spectrum”.

They said the terms of reference of the JPC also have to be worked out in case of a decision in its favour.

Party sources added that any JPC on 2G spectrum will not deal with the controversy relating to the contract involving Indian Space Research Organisation and a private company on S-band spectrum allocation.

Mukherjee is slated to meet Congress leaders at the party office Tuesday for consultations regarding the union budget. The budget session of parliament begins Feb 21.

Party sources said the party’s core committee may also meet again Tuesday.

will not be displayed