Party to move resolution demanding JPC probe into corruption scandals

The demand for a joint parliamentary committee to go into corruption scandals made inside the two Houses of Parliament here on Wednesday was given a more formal shape later in the day when Leaders of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley gave notices under substantive motions on the same subject in their Houses.

“If the ruling party thinks it can browbeat the Opposition on this issue we will not tolerate it. It is a war of nerves. Let us see how long they try to resist our legitimate demand for a JPC,” Ms. Swaraj told reporters while giving a clear indication that there was no way the Bharatiya Janata Party would allow Parliament to function on Thursday unless its demand was conceded.

She added that her party did not want to disrupt Parliament functioning this session, but the government's attitude of trying to prevent the Opposition from raising legitimate concerns about the scandals made it change its mind. She said she was confident of support for the resolutions from not only the National Democratic Alliance parties but also the AIADMK and the Left.

The notice in the Rajya Sabha has been given under Rule 167 of the procedures while in the Lok Sabha, Rule 184. Both are substantive motions entailing a vote. The notice says: “This House expresses its deep concern over the spate of scandals in the present government — 2G spectrum allocation, Commonwealth Games and the Adarsh housing society — resulting in misuse of official authority and misappropriation of funds to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees and weakening of institutions which are mandated to check such incidents of corruption, namely the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Central Vigilance Commission, and, therefore, resolves to constitute a JPC to investigate all these scams and report to Parliament.”

In short, the BJP would like to move this resolution in each of the two Houses and get Parliament's approval through a vote after discussion. With the government likely to dig in its heels and the Congress already making a counter-offensive by charging that BJP president Nitin Gadkari too had a flat in the Adarsh society through proxy, a driver of a businessman and a member of the party's national executive committee, the matter is not likely to be resolved in Parliament on Thursday.

S.S. Ahluwalia of the BJP denied that Mr. Gadkari had a flat in the society by proxy and in fact denied that there was any connection between anyone owning a flat there and Mr. Gadkari. However, only a few days ago Mr. Gadkari himself had told reporters that he knew the promoter of the Adarsh society well and was even offered a flat that he had refused. It had also been established that the chauffeur of a BJP executive member had been allotted a flat for which the BJP executive member made the payment.

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said that whatever the charges and counter-charges, a JPC should be set up and the truth should come out. The BJP would not shy away from the truth.

Mr. Ahluwalia rejected the point made by Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee that the housing scam was a State subject and the Centre had no role in it. “Why are the Adarsh society files moving in and out of the Defence Ministry here,” he asked. But he said he was averse to the idea of the JPC taking up the mining scandal in Karnataka, also allegedly running into thousands of crores, saying the State lokayukta was looking into it.

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