Speaker's govt-BJP meet fails to resolve JPC issue

Speaker`s govt-BJP meet fails to resolve JPC issue New Delhi: In a fresh bid to end deadlock in Parliament, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today met leaders of the government and BJP but failed to bridge differences as the main Opposition insisted on JPC probe into 2G scam and put the onus of ending the impasse on the ruling coalition.

Kumar, who fears that the impasse could spill over to the Budget session after washing out the entire Winter session, held a luncheon meeting which was attended by Finance Minister and Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee and Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and BJP veteran L K Advani.

At the two-hour meeting, both the government and Opposition leaders agreed that the logjam was a matter of concern but had divergent views on ending it.

The BJP leaders made it clear that they would accept nothing less than JPC probe into the scam, which the government is not ready to accept.

"We have not given up our demand for JPC. In fact, we reiterated it in today's meeting," Swaraj tweeted later. Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters that "BJP's position is that we are asking for a JPC. We are clear and we are firm on our demand for a JPC."

She made it clear that the onus of ending the impasse was on the government, saying it has the primary responsibility of running Parliament.

"The responsibility of running the Parliament lies with the government. We still are firm on our demand for the JPC. The way out to run the (budget) session is clear. The government should find a way to take the opposition along," the spokesperson said.

The Speaker, however, was hopeful that the deadlock would end before the next session of Parliament.

"Both sides are very keen that the next session (of Parliament) should run in order ... I am very, very optimistic on how the events will unfold," said Kumar who will be meeting leaders of non-BJP parties tomorrow.

Asked about Kumar's optimism of finding a way out, Sitharaman said, "Definitely, our hope is this too (that a way is found out). The government should do some deep thinking and find a way out."

Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed merely expressed hope that something would emerge from the process of dialogue.

The entire Winter session of Parliament was washed out without transacting any significant business because of opposition-government standoff on the issue of JPC probe into the spectrum allocation. The opposition parties have threatened to stall the proceedings in the Budget session, expected to start in the third week of February, if the JPC demand was not met.

"I am fully convinced that our democracy is very mature. There might be some ups and downs but whether they are leaders of the ruling party or the ruling coalition or leaders of the oppsition they all are very committed to ensuring that Parliament runs," the Speaker said.

"With this kind of commitment and this kind of attitude, I am sure with their differing views they will be able to find a common ground and I am very optimistic that something positive will emerge," Meira Kumar said.

Noting that Parliament was not able to function during the Winter session barring the first day, she said, "It is a cause of concern for all of us and all this while I was worried."

Last week Mukherjee, the government trouble-shooter, had mooted the idea of a special session to discuss the issue of JPC but the opposition was quick to reject it and insisted on a JPC.

BJP and other opposition parties insist that the Public Accounts Committee, which is already examining the 2G issue, does not have the powers to fully investigate alleged scam and a JPC should be constituted. UPA has stuck to its refusal to accept the demand for JPC.

The Speaker had earlier held a meeting with leaders to end the impasse but it had failed.

Two all-party meetings called by the government to end the impasse had also failed.