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All-Party Meet On 2G Fails To End Deadlock

New Delhi, Nov 22: An all-party meeting called to end the deadlock in Parliament on 2G spectrum failed today as the Opposition stuck to its demand for JPC probe and rejected the government's proposal for

PTI [ Updated: November 22, 2010 20:59 IST ]
all party meet on 2g fails to end deadlock
all party meet on 2g fails to end deadlock

New Delhi, Nov 22: An all-party meeting called to end the deadlock in Parliament on 2G spectrum failed today as the Opposition stuck to its demand for JPC probe and rejected the government's proposal for attaching multi-disciplinary probe teams with the PAC to go into CAG report.

After the hour-long meeting, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the opposition parties that he would get back to them after consulting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Mukherjee had called the leaders of all parties to discuss ways to end the logjam over 2G probe because of which Parliament has remained paralysed ever since the Winter Session began on November 9 as the Opposition has been insisting on setting up of Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into the scam.

During the meeting, the government proposed that the teams of multiple agencies probing the 2G scam could be attached with the Public Accounts Committee, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said.

This was rejected by the opposition parties in unison as they stuck to their demand for JPC, she said.

"The deadlock continues. It was just another round of discussions," said Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi after the meeting.

"They (government) offered nothing new. We asked why the government was refusing to have JPC on 2G spectrum issue when such probes have been carried out on four earlier occasions," JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said.

Questioning the government's refusal to set up JPC into 2G spectrum allocation, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta referred to the Security Scam of 1991 and said Manmohan Singh, as Finance Minister then, had taken a lead in setting up JPC.

He accused Singh of "failing to discharge" his Constitutional duty and went on to demand JPC to look into "failure" of the Prime Minister.

Justifying his charge, Dasgupta said Singh, in his affidavit to the Supreme Court, had noted that he had received a complaint from him (Dasgupta) and it was passed on to A Raja, the then Telecom Minister.

"The Prime Minister can be accused of dereliction of duty. After receiving the complaint, the Prime Minister failed to restrain Raja (in allocation of 2G) because the Prime Minister is afraid of DMK and afraid of losing the government," Dasgupta said.

"Today, fingers are being raised at the Prime Minister in the Supreme Court. This is a very serious issue. PAC cannot look into the functioning of PMO and the government," the CPI leader argued.

On the opposition's rejection of PAC looking into 2G scam, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the PAC can only look into audit related issues while the spectrum matter has gone beyond this aspect.

After the meeting, Mukherjee said if the opposition parties feel so, then "we can offer a multi-disciplinary investigation agency consisting of officers of various branches of different investigation agencies to the help the PAC...therefore it would be additional to the normal functioning of the PAC."

Swaraj and her counterpart in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley also raised the issue of involvement of corporate lobbyists in the 2-G Spectrum allocation case as revealed in some media reports.

"As the tapes have exposed, the corporate lobbyists decide who should be the minister and the allocation of portfolios. Then they decide what the policy should be and how to go about it," Jaitley said.

BJP insisted in the meeting that the audio tapes of conversations between a corporate lobbyist and "anchors, journalists and editors" shows that the ambit and ramifications of the 2-G Spectrum scam could be larger and so beyond the powers of a Public Accounts Committee and hence a JPC would be required.

"A JPC can summon ministers and former ministers and even the Prime Minister. Two former finance ministers have been summoned by earlier JPCs. The PAC does not have the powers to do so. It only deals with the CAG report," Swaraj said.

The JPC on Harshad Mehta scam had summoned then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh while the JPC on the Ketan Parekh Securities scam had summoned then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha.

The only issue on which there were differences in the opposition camp during the all-party meeting was on the period which should be investigated by the JPC.

There was one view that JPC should investigate the telecom tenders issue from 1999 but AIADMK said it should be from 1994 onwards as the sector was privatised in that year.

RLD Chief Ajit Singh said when the opposition is united in its demand for a JPC, the government should at least clarify why it was not accepting it. The government reportedly did not reply to his query.

The Left parties, which appeared lukewarm during the November 15 all-party meeting on JPC demand, were very vocal today and strongly demanded that it be set up. PTI

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