Tuesday, April 17, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Cong wants JPC on Tehelka
Impasse in Parliament

Tribune News Service and PTI

New Delhi, April 16
In a shift in strategy, the Congress late tonight dropped the demand for the resignation of the Vajpayee government on Tehelka expose as a pre-condition and demanded action against those “seen culpable” in the videotapes and constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to break the impasse in Parliament on the issue.

“To break the impasse in the Parliament, even at this stage, we call upon the government to set the law in motion against all those seen as culpable on the Tehelka tapes and agree to the setting up of a JPC to look into all aspects of the expose,” Congress spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy told reporters here after a four-hour meeting of the CPP political affairs committee.

The main opposition also wanted the government to clarify the issue of reported CBI inquiry against its president on various allegations made by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy.

Lok Sabha Speaker G. M. C. Balayogi (right) presides over the all-party meeting before the start of Parliament session at Parliament House on Monday.
Lok Sabha Speaker G. M. C. Balayogi (right) presides over the all-party meeting before the start of Parliament session at Parliament House on Monday. — PTI photo

A demand, especially from the Left, for curtailing of the session in view of the assembly elections was shot down by the Congress.

Sources said the Congress indicated at the meeting that it would be difficult for it to cooperate in the smooth functioning of the House if the government did not respond to its two conditions.

The Congress has been insisting that the Prime Minister come out with “truth” as regards the letter written by Swamy in view of the fact that various government spokesmen, including the Prime Minister, had spoken in different voices on the issue.

While making its demands, the Congress expressed resentment that a CBI inquiry had reportedly been ordered against Gandhi on the basis of a letter written by Swamy while in the Tehelka case it had not taken any action despite “video evidence”. Responding to the demands, the government said any clarification can be sought from the prime minister during the course of discussion in the house.

The government said it was ready for a discussion under any rule. Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi appealed to the members to cooperate in smooth running of the House.

However, other opposition parties, barring the RJD, were not vociferous in supporting the Congress demands and spoke in favour of smooth running of the House.

Sources said some opposition parties, including the Left, Samajwadi Party and RJD, besides the BJP’s ally, the DMK, had suggested curtailing the session in view of assembly elections but it was turned down by the Congress and Shiv Sena.

Soon after the meeting of the BAC, the Political Affairs Committee of the Congress met to discuss the latest situation.

Earlier, accusing the Vajpayee Government of indulging in a “whitewash” on the Tehelka issue through the judicial inquiry, the Congress today hardened its stand by declaring that any debate on Tehelka expose should be preceded by action.

“We will continue to demand that action should precede debate on Tehelka...we also want the Prime Minister to tell the truth as regards Swamy’s letter as he and various other government spokesmen are speaking in different voices on the issue,” Congress spokesman Mr S. Jaipal Reddy told newsmen here.

Mr Reddy also conveyed the party’s opposition to any move to curtail the Budget session, which concludes on May 11. Putting the onus on the government for non-functioning of Parliament, Congress spokesman said the Congress was interested in the smooth functioning of Parliament, but the onus for it shifts squarely on the government. It must come clean on Tehelka issue and on the way it handled Swamy’s letter.

The remarks of the Congress spokesman came after an all-party meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi for smooth functioning of Parliament.


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