Tuesday, April 24, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Govt climbs down on Tehelka JPC
Cong agrees to debate on Budget
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23
The month-long impasse in Parliament over the JPC probe into the Tehelka issue was resolved today following a meeting between the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and the Leader of Opposition Ms Sonia Gandhi. The meeting, held under auspices of the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr G.M.C. Balayogi, paves the way for discussion on the general Budget.

While the government said at the meeting that it had an open mind on the demand for the JPC probe, the Congress agreed to cooperate in the conduct of orderly discussion on the Budget.

The 15-minute meeting was also attended by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, and the Deputy Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Mr Madhav Rao Scindia.

Congress leaders said they would raise the demand for the JPC probe into Tehelka issue after the Budget was passed. The Congress president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, later told reporters that the party was hoping for a positive response from the government.

Specifying the government’s position, Mr Mahajan said the government had an open mind on the JPC demand. “The government will tell its final stand once the issue is raised in Parliament,” Mr Mahajan said.

Earlier in the day, the Congress had said the Prime Minister’s letter to Ms Sonia Gandhi on resolving the impasse in Parliament had no substantive suggestion which could take the process forward.

Ms Gandhi, in her reply to the Prime Minister’s letter, had appealed for reconsidering government’s stand against setting up of the JPC, saying that she was at a loss to understand “why it (the government) had gone back on its unilateral offer.”

Ms Gandhi had said in her letter that she was fully alive to the fact that “we are not presenting ourselves in a favourable light through the stand-off in Parliament.” The Leader of Opposition had called upon the government to take appropriate initiative for evolving a mutually acceptable solution.

The Speaker kept up his efforts throughout the day today to resolve the stalemate in the House on the Tehelka issue by having a morning meeting with Mr Mahajan and Mr Scindia.

The Speaker tried to impress upon the need to resolve the month-long impasse so that the House could return to normalcy and he was saved of the embarrassment of seeing the Budget passed without any debate.

He also said the public was feeling indignant about the turn of events in the House and all parties should strive towards resuming normal functioning of Parliament.

The morning meeting called by the Speaker paved the way for the evening meeting between the Prime Minister and Ms Gandhi which finally broke the deadlock. The temporary truce came because of an apparent climb down by the Congress.

The agreement comes three days after the controversial passage of the Rail Budget without discussion amidst pandemonium. Both sides claimed that there had been no “climb-down” on their part.


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