Gargi Parsai

Its demand for JPC on nuclear deal is hackneyed: Congress

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Wednesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of disrupting Parliament to prevent a debate on the Sachar Committee report on the social, economic and educational status of Muslims. The report was tabled on November 30 last and a discussion in the Lok Sabha was listed for Wednesday. Describing the BJP demand for setting up a Joint Parliamentary Committee on the India-U.S. nuclear agreement — on which the House was adjourned — as “old and hackneyed,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said the Opposition was frequently disrupting the proceedings on “one pretext or the other.” “Never before has a JPC been constituted on international agreements.”

Internal group

He said there was no question of an all-Parliament or all-party committee on the nuclear deal. The Pranab Mukherjee committee was set up to go into the issues raised by “our” supporting party. “This is an internal group of the UPA, by the UPA, for the UPA to clarify the concerns raised by our supporting party. If the National Democratic Alliance or its allies are so interested in joining it, then they should either join the UPA or give outside support. Then we will consider their offer.”

Just because there were Ministers on the Mukherjee panel, it did not make it a government committee. “The Ministers are representing their parties.”

Seeking to know why the BJP was “running away” from a debate on the Sachar panel’s recommendations, Mr. Singhvi said: “What are their reservations about the Sachar panel? Why are they running away from a debate on an issue of the utmost importance?”

He dismissed the charge that the (recently tabled) follow-up action on the Sachar recommendations was an election-eve package for Muslims and said the setting up of such a committee was proposed under the Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance.

Charging the BJP with “playing politics,” trying to mislead the nation and creating confusion, Mr. Singhvi said there was no talk of elections when the Sachar Committee was set up or when it submitted its recommendations last year. “It is they who are politicising the issue, not us.”