New Delhi: In a bid to prevent the Budget Session from being washed out like the Winter Session, the government is most likely to announce the setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
The UPA has already dropped enough hints that it was going to give in to the Opposition’s demand, with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee saying the government wants the Parliament to function at any cost.
Sources said the Union Cabinet may take a decision on setting up the JPC as early as today when it meets to consider the President's address to Parliament on the opening day of Budget Session on February 21.
The Cabinet is meeting primarily to approve the Presidential address to the joint sitting of Parliament in which government comes out with its policies for the year and views on various topical issues.
However, sources in the government said during the meeting the Cabinet is also likely to take a view on the JPC issue that has been the cause for a stand-off between the government and the Opposition and led to the washout of the entire Winter Session of Parliament.
A media report today even claimed that Pranab Mukherjee drove to senior BJP leader LK Advani’s Prithviraj Road residence on February 7 to discuss the Parliament impasse. The meeting, the report claimed, managed to break the ice.
The government, which has so far resisted setting up of JPC, is now understood to be ready to announce it but not before a discussion is held in Parliament over the issue of corruption.
The issue is also understood to have been discussed yesterday at the Congress Core Group meeting, chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi.
After the meeting, the Congress gave indications that it might not be averse to a JPC to probe the 2G scam if the Opposition is ready for a prior debate and agree to modalities for such an inquiry.
"Democratic institutions must be allowed to function... What modus operandi... it is for the government and the Opposition to work it out," party spokesman Manish Tewari said.
He said Congress has been consistently demanding a debate in Parliament on the issue.
"Opposition should not run away from a debate. The demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe should not become a subterfuge to run away from debate. Debate on the floor of the House is a fair, legitimate and just demand", he said.
A senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity, said if the cost of running Parliament is JPC, then let it be. But if at all a JPC is to be conceded, it should not be preceding a debate in Parliament.
He said while no decision has been taken by the ruling dispensation on the JPC issue, the same depended upon the attitude of the Opposition on the terms of reference as also prior debate.
The ruling party also wants to keep the S-band issue away from any such probe claiming that it is "no scam".
The Congress is keen that such a probe covers the BJP-led NDA's stint in power and is claiming that the main Opposition will have a lot to answer. The CBI summons to Arun Shourie, former telecom minister in the NDA rule, is being cited by the ruling party.
With the entire Winter Session going waste over the JPC issue, ruling circles feel that a section of the Opposition could still disrupt Parliament even if a JPC is agreed to.
First Published: Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 12:10