JPC demand: Parliament logjam continues as Govt, Oppn refuse to blink

Speaker Meira Kumar`s lunch diplomacy to end the stalemate over demands for a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum scam failed.

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2010, 18:01 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: After wastage of 13 consecutive
working days, the entire Winter session of Parliament appears
set to be lost as efforts to break the government-opposition
stand-off over JPC issue failed on Tuesday with both sides
hardening their positions.

At an all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker
Meira Kumar, the Opposition made it clear that it will not
allow Parliament to function till JPC into 2G spectrum
allocation is set up but the government said the demand was
"unacceptable".

The Opposition parties also emphasised that it will not
be satisfied by anything less than JPC, rejecting government`s
proposal for Supreme Court monitored CBI probe into 2G scam.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, at a nearly two-and-a-half hour lunch meeting hosted by Meira Kumar, rejected the opposition`s demand.

Sources in know of what transpired at the meeting told IANS that Mukherjee, who is also the leader of the house, tried hard to convince a united opposition to give up its demand over setting up a JPC.

"He was in combative mode. He spoke endlessly. Went on and on with history, but failed to convince the opposition," said the source privy to the meeting.

The finance minister said the government was "determined" and no JPC would be set up, which angered the opposition and "the logjam continues", said the source.

The government also ruled out sine die adjournment of
the session which is slated to conclude on December 13.

To build pressure on the government, about 80 MPs
belonging to non-NDA opposition parties marched to the
Rashtrapati Bhavan to urge President Pratibha Patil to
"advise" the government to set up JPC.

"All the Opposition parties demanded a JPC and if the
government cant give JPC, the Parliament would not be able to
function. We have told this thing to the Speaker also," Leader
of Opposition Sushma Swaraj told reporters after the
two-and-a-half hour meeting.

During the meeting, the Speaker suggested that the
Question Hour should be allowed and other issues could be
debated later but it was turned down by the Opposition.

"We asked how will that help if Question hour goes on,"
Swaraj said, adding her party wanted Parliament to function
not only one hour but the whole day.

"Why is the government refusing to accept JPC is
bewildering. Government feels many skeletons will come out of
its cupboard," CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said.

Insisting that the demands for JPC do not fit in the
rules of Parliament, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan
Kumar Bansal said, "This meeting could not bring about the
results we expected."

Contending that her effort was to end the impasse in
Parliament, Kumar said, "till a solution is found, both sides
(government and Opposition) should continue efforts."

The meeting at the committee room of the Parliament Library complex began at 1.30 p.m. and lasted till about 3.30 p.m. The discussion was attended by leaders of all parties in the house.

On the lunch menu was chicken biryani, vegetable pulao, fish curry, mixed vegetables, dal tadka and kheer for dessert.

Hoping to reach some sort of consensus, Meira Kumar tried to bring the government and the opposition on the same page on the issue that has seen parliament`s adjournments for 13 successive days.

Allies of the ruling Congress have backed the government`s stance that there was no need for a JPC as the Public Accounts Committee, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi, was already looking into the Comptroller and Auditor General report on the 2G spectrum allocation.

The government had earlier held two rounds of talks with opposition leaders to end the stalemate but without success.

-Agencies inputs