New Delhi, Feb 18: Indicating formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the 2G spectrum scam, government today appeared to rule out widening its ambit to cover other scandals.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal gave such a hint at a press conference ahead of the three-month long Budget session beginning Monday. A decision on setting up a JPC would be taken by Wednesday, he said.
After indications emerged that the UPA government may agree to formation of the JPC to probe the 2G scam, an issue which had derailed the entire winter session of Parliament, BJP has been talking of inclusion of the Commonwealth Games scandal and the Adarsh Housing scam also in its ambit.
Bansal said that discussions with Opposition on the issue of JPC are "moving forward" and expressed the hope that the Budget Session will "run smoothly".
"It is a premature question at the moment. We are still in the process of discussing with other political parties.....A decision will be taken by wednesday,", Bansal said when asked whether Government has decided to go in for a JPC.
The demand for widening the ambit of the is unlikely to be conceded as the rules of Parliamentary procedure do not allow such a clubbing of various issues under an umbrella resolution.
Bansal sought to reject the demand for a combined JPC into the 2G scam, Commonwealth Games scandal and Adarsh Housing scam.
He said that according to rules of procedure of Parliament, a definite issue needed to be mentioned in the motion and there cannot be a probe on a general issue like corruption.
To a query on the possibility of Prime Minister being called by the JPC to appear before it, Bansal said that in such an eventuality, the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar will have to decide whether to allow it. "The decision of the Speaker will be final".
Bansal said that the Left parties could find a representation in the JPC as the four parties have given in writing to the government that they be treated as a group. The strength of the Left formation came down significantly in the current Lok Sabha from a record tally of nearly 60 in the last Lok Sabha.
Government sources said that the JPC could be a 30-member affair with 20 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha. If the Committee is set up with 21 members, then 14 will be from the Lower House and 7 from the Upper House.
The JPC could have representation of seven to nine major parties. Congress, BJP, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, JD-U and DMK could get the membership in view of their numbers.
The AIADMK, which is in the forefront of the demand for JPC, is unlikely to be a member in view of lack of strength in Parliament and similar will be the fate of NCP, National Conference and Muslim League, despite being members of the ruling UPA.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could make a brief statement in the Lok Sabha when a motion for JPC is taken up.
P V Narasimha Rao had made a statement when a JPC into the Harshad Mehta affair was set up in the early nineties.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal is expected to move the motion following which there will be a debate, a demand being emphasised by the Congress.
The one-line motion could be on the lines of instituting a JPC probe to go into the alleged irregularities in the 2G spectrum allocation issue.
Bansal's statements appeared significant in the backdrop of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's remarks that no price is dear enough to ensure smooth functioning of Parliament and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assertion that he was not afraid of facing the JPC.
Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj has demanded the government that an announcement on the JPC would have to be made by Tuesday, Feb 22. PTI