Why the government is hesitant is beyond comprehension, says Sitaram Yechury

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday sought to know why the United Progressive Alliance government is hesitant to agree to the Opposition demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the 2G spectrum allocation scam, which the CAG report tabled in Parliament during the day said caused a Rs. 1.76 lakh crore revenue loss.

“The JPC will be empowered to go into the entire issue as to how a government asset of spectrum was allocated to private players, how the process started. The JPC will be headed by a member of the ruling party, and why the government is hesitant is beyond comprehension,” CPI(M) parliamentary party leader Sitaram Yechury told journalists here.

The former Communications Minister A. Raja had said that decisions were taken with the knowledge of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Mr. Yechury said that this too can be cleared through a JPC.

“The Telecom Minister's assertions have drawn attention to the Prime Minister's role, or his suggested culpability, in the entire decision-making process...There is no better mechanism than a JPC [to enquire into it]. It is the best way to resolve this stalemate,” he said.

“Tighten procedures”

Citing the report of the JPC into the Harshad Mehta stock scam, he came up with recommendations to tighten the procedures to prevent a repeat and put in place systems that stood the test of time.

Depending on the response of the government to the demand by the Opposition, the party would decide on seeking clarifications from the Prime Minister.

Asked whether the party would focus on the role of Mr. Raja in the spectrum issue, the CPI(M) leader said the former Minister was quoted as having said that he followed the policies laid down in the late 1990s.

Mr. Yechury said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government was in power during the time, and this aspect could be gone into by the JPC. With Mr. Raja stating that he went in accordance with past practices, it was important to go into this aspect.

Alternative probe

As for the possibility of agreeing to an alternative probe, he said the acceptance would depend on whether such investigation was credible.

On the Commonwealth Games and Adarsh housing scandals, he said a whole set of State and Central level issues came up in these two cases, and indicated that some other probe could be considered for these.

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