No end in
sight to parliament deadlock on 2G spectrum probe
Thursday November 25, 2010 06:27:35 PM,
Sarwar Kashani, IANS
Despite 10 days of legislative business already lost, the logjam
in parliament showed no signs of ending Thursday with the
opposition unrelenting on its demand for a parliamentary probe
into the 2G spectrum allotment and the treasury anxious over the
passage of crucial bills, including one that seeks more money for
subsidies and federal schemes.
"We have not been able to find a solution," said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the veteran Congress leader who has been in
talks with opposition leaders to find a way out to ensure that
parliamentary business resumes soon.
"I don't know how to resolve this impasse," he said, looking
concerned over the constant disruption in both houses of
parliament ever since the winter session began Nov 9.
Thursday again saw the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha adjourn for
the day without transacting any business -- the 10th straight day
the opposition vigorously pushed its demand for a probe by a joint
parliamentary committee (JPC) into the alleged 2G spectrum scam.
The opposition has been unrelenting, despite the resignation of
DMK leader A. Raja as communications minister and Mukherjee's
stand that the Public Accounts Commitee, chaired the BJP's Murli
Manohar Joshi, is like a JPC in perpetuity.
The logjam has posed a risk to the second supplementary demand for
grants, already tabled in the Lok Sabha, seeking sanction to spend
Rs.19,812 crore for payments towards subsidy on fertilisers and
food, rural roads construction and other expenditure.
The government can technically approve the demand without a debate
and through voice vote but it fears that it will receive flak from
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar told reporters that parliament was a
forum to make voices heard democratically, making a passionate
appeal to both sides for ending the impasse. "Whatever they want
to say, they can say in the house. It is a forum to debate. We are
trying to persuade both sides to ends the logjam," Meira Kumar
The government has also ruled out any possibility of cutting short
the winter session amid media speculation that both houses would
be adjourned sine die ahead of the scheduled Dec 13.
"There is no question of cutting the session short," Parliamentary
Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told IANS. "The session will
be on till the schedule and the government is willing to discuss
any issue in parliament."
There are indications that Mukherjee, a known-trouble shooter,
will make yet another attempt to speak to opposition leaders for
ending the logjam.
A Congress leader said the finance minister will meet some
opposition leaders soon and try to persuade them to let the houses
But it might not yield results with an opposition unwilling to
"If it has done nothing wrong then why is the government shying
away from a JPC," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar asked.
Javadekar told IANS that the opposition would settle for "nothing
less than a JPC probe into the scam".
The Congress appears to be caught in a quandry -- it is wary of
the risks involved if a JPC starts probing the alleged
irregularities in the 2008 allocation of second-generation mobile
telephony spectrum that is said to have caused huge losses to the
If a JPC is set up, the panel will have the authority to question
any minister, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "But the
government won't allow that situation to arise as it may also mean
an admission of guilt," said a Congress leader.
The pending bills in parliament include the Forward Contracts
Regulation Bill, the Recovery of Debts due to Banks and FIIs Bill,
the Chit Fund Bill, the Companies Bill and the Land Acquisition
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