Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee has invited party leaders from both Houses for “mutual consultations” over lunch on Tuesday to find a way out of the parliamentary impasse over the Opposition demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the 2G spectrum allocation and other corruption scandals.
The Comptroller and Auditor-General report, which is said to have indicted the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, on the spectrum allocation issue leading to his resignation after an Opposition outcry, is likely to be tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, parliamentary sources indicated on Monday.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party and its partners in the National Democratic Alliance are firm that nothing less than a JPC into the three major cases of corruption – 2G spectrum, Commonwealth Games and Adarsh Housing Society – will satisfy them, the Left parties have begun saying they are against continued stalling of Parliament, but the cases of corruption must be probed effectively.
Since Wednesday is not a working day for Parliament on account of Id-ul-Zuha, the Opposition is not in a mind to relent. As for the Left, its parties will meet after Mr. Mukherjee's lunch to take stock of the situation and arrive at a decision.
At a meeting in the chamber of Chairman of the Rajya Sabha on Monday morning, some BJP leaders reportedly hinted that the ‘hungama' (noise and chaos) in Parliament would continue till Thursday, which is also the last day for campaigning in the last phase of polls in Bihar.
While the BJP is insisting on a JPC probe, saying the full dimensions of the corruption involved would be exposed only then, the Congress has been arguing that the Public Accounts Committee chaired by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi is a “mega JPC” and would look into the CAG report in the course of its normal work.
The BJP has also charged the government with indulging in a cover-up operation, citing the reported efforts made to convene a meeting among counsel for Mr. Raja, in the eye of the storm over 2G spectrum allocation, the Solicitor-General and lawyers of the Central Bureau of Investigation
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said: “If such a meeting was indeed held, it establishes in effect that efforts were made for a cover-up. The Department of Telecommunications is being investigated as is the role played by Mr. Raja. How can the lawyers of the investigating agency, the CBI, hold a joint meeting with lawyers of the accused?”
While the BJP is not impressed by the government argument that the Adarsh Housing Society has to be probed by the Maharashtra government, and not by the Centre, it is unwilling to say anything about taking action against its own Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa in Karnataka, where his sons have reportedly benefitted from allotment in similar housing societies.
“Let them [the Congress] raise the Karnataka corruption issues in the Assembly. The Centre is not involved in that issue. There is no question of Mr. Yeddyurappa resigning,” Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha S.S. Ahluwalia said. He added that till the BJP demand was met, Parliament cannot run smoothly and the government should not expect any cooperation from the Opposition.
Despite Mr. Raja's resignation, the Opposition stalled proceedings in Parliament for the third successive day on Monday, reiterating its demand for a JPC probe.
Turning down the demand, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee said the PAC was competent enough to handle the issue. Furthermore, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal offered to allow a discussion. However, contrary to speculation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not make any statement in Parliament.