M A I N   N E W S

Govt rules out JPC probe
Volcker panel findings
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 9
The demand by the Opposition for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Volcker findings on food-for-oil scam was rejected by the government in both the Houses of Parliament today saying Justice R.S. Pathak Inquiry Authority had already started its work and its scope was “very wide”.

In the Lok Sabha, soon after BJP Deputy Leader V.K. Malhotra raised the issue, Leader of the House and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected the demand saying “I do not see that any purpose will be served by a JPC” at this stage.

Mr Mukherjee said the Opposition first asked for a CBI probe, then demanded that an FIR be filed and “now, suddenly they want a JPC”.

Emphasising that all “new factors” relating to the Volcker issue would be sent to the inquiry authority, he said “to suggest a completely new mechanism is not acceptable”. Dissatisfied over Mr Mukherjee’s response, the Opposition staged a walkout.

In Rajya Sabha, the issue was raised by Leader of the Opposition Jaswant Singh, who said government should not fight shy of appointing a JPC to go into the issue and it should not have any apprehension.

Responding to his demand, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri said there was a three-pronged strategy to inquire into the Volcker findings and added that there was no justification for a JPC probe at this stage.

He said besides Justice R.S. Pathak Inquiry Authority, Mr Virendra Dayal had been entrusted with the task of collecting material from the UN and Volcker.

The Enforcement Directorate was also looking into the violation under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, he said.

Mr Pachouri said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already stated on the floor of the House that the government would go into the root of the matter and not only the report of the Pathak authority would be placed on the table of Parliament but also the action-taken report.

He said “the government has an open mind” in probing the Volcker findings but felt the Opposition BJP should not change its views according to convenience.

Mr Pachouri was joined by members of the Congress, Left parties, the RJD and the NCP who said there was no justification for another probe by the JPC.

Amar Singh (SP) said the demand for a JPC was no doubt a good idea but felt that the BJP should have asked for it earlier.


Natwar Singh in Patiala
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 9
Was the beleaguered former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh in the city today to tax his and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s brains in an effort to hammer out a strategy to overcome the crisis which he has been facing after the surfacing of the Volcker report.

The grapevine had it that the former Union Minister was putting up in his brother-in-law Capt Amarinder Singh’s new Moti Bagh residence in the city since late last evening. Capt Amarinder Singh, who was at his Moti Bagh palace and was supposed to leave for either Chandigarh or New Delhi today at 10.30 am, cancelled his programme at the eleventh hour and stayed put at his residence.

According to political circles, Capt Amarinder Singh , K. Natwar Singh and their loyalists have been putting their minds together to evolve a strategy to blunt the sharp attack launched by the Opposition on the former Union Minister and his son Jagat Singh.

Though this correspondent contacted the district civil and police authorities for confirming whether K. Natwar Singh was present in the Moti Bagh palace or not, all of them expressed ignorance about it. However, a senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said K. Natwar Singh came to the city last evening.

A section of politicians of this region to whom TNS spoke to pointed out that Capt Amarinder Singh was known as a great political strategist after he successfully managed to handle the crisis after the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, led a revolt against him and after the Internet scam allegedly involving his son Raninder Singh surfaced. They added that this was the main reason that K. Natwar Singh came here in a secretive manner to get out of the boiled waters he had now found himself in.

Meanwhile, sources said Capt Amarinder Singh was suffering from an infection.

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