New Delhi: Even as the Parliament remained stalled for the 18th successive day Tuesday, the Congress remained steadfast in its stand against a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum.
In the Lok Sabha, opposition members came near Speaker Meira Kumar as soon as the house met and raised slogans, demanding the JPC. She urged them to go back to their seats but the opposition members did not relent.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha where Chairman Hamid Ansari took up the question hour as soon as the house met. However, opposition members continued pressing their demand for a JPC.
Both the houses were later adjourned for the day.
The government, equally determined not to set up such a panel, maintains a Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament, headed by an opposition MP, is already looking into the issue.
Joint protest by the entire Opposition - the National Democratic Alliance, the Left and other parties - have paralysed Parliament`s functioning with no substantial legislative business transacted in the Winter Session.
The Congress is said to be wary of a JPC probe because of three reasons:
1. The numbers are stacked against it in the Parliament as a result of which the UPA may end up with minority representation in the JPC – giving the opposition an upper hand in charting the course of action.
2. It fears that the JPC may go on for two to three years, thereby casting a shadow on 2014 general elections and also assembly elections in various states.
3. Most importantly, the opposition may very well try to pull in the PM or his office into the controversy and that is unfathomable for the ruling party.
Clearly the options before the government seem limited at this juncture. What is adding to the trouble is that key UPA allies are said to be forcing a rethink on the government’s stand on the entire issue.
Allies like the Trinamool Congress and the DMK – Assembly Elections are scheduled early next year in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu - are, as per reports, wary of the political fallout of the stubborn stand of the government against the JPC probe.
An emergency meeting called by the UPA government yesterday to review the logjam in the Parliament was called off at the last minute. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the meeting of UPA allies will be rescheduled.
Interestingly, Mamata Banerjee is still wary of publicly taking a belligerent stand; she was quoted by a newspaper as saying, "I have been saying for a long time that we want the truth to come out in the 2G spectrum issue. We are with the Prime Minister in whatever he decides."
Likewise, the DMK, although wary of the shadow the JPC might cast on its man A Raja, doesn’t want to risk being seen as opposed to the probe by the JPC and hence is wanting the government to reconsider its position, albeit cautiously.
Importantly, the other key ally, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had yesterday backed the government on its refusal to set up a JPC to probe the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
Pawar, after a meeting with senior Congress leader and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, told reporters that the UPA "stands firm on no need to have a JPC".
"The UPA has decided to evolve a collective approach on this issue and there will be no JPC," Pawar said.
He also ruled out any possibility of adjourning Parliament sine die ahead of the schedule on December 13.
Barring the first day of the ongoing Winter Session that began on November 9, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have not functioned normally for a single day since then.