PARLIAMENT DEADLOCK enters DAY 9
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 22
They slammed the government offer of probe by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) assisted by a multi-disciplinary investigative team of the Enforcement Directorate, the CAG, the CBI and the Income Tax Department and said nothing short of a JPC would do if Parliament was to run.
Under pressure, the UPA is likely to yield, with top sources telling The Tribune of this remark Pranab made to Opposition leaders at today’s meeting: “If we agree to a JPC, it would not be because we are convinced, but because we would give in.” Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, when asked if a JPC was likely, answered in the affirmative.
The BJP is seeking a JPC with enhanced terms of reference to cover issues beyond the spectrum allocation which the episode has raised, including the role of media in brokering power at the behest of corporates as the spectrum tapes have shown.
In today’s 80-minute meeting, Sushma and BJP leader in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley mentioned the danger that corporate culture was posing to Indian democracy. “Now corporates will determine how the government will run, who will get which ministry, how policies will be modified and which mediaperson will write what. Legislature, executive, judiciary and media are all under threat. This is serious. Also, with the Supreme Court making observations on the PM, the matter has become huge. Only a JPC can handle it,” Sushma said adding that media houses in the dock for fixing deals must be called to question. Earlier, chief of an English channel was also summoned by a House committee probing the “cash-for-vote” case.
The Left wants a JPC that alone is competent to question the PM whose role is under cloud. The CPI, in a somersault from the November 15 meeting held to break the deadlock, said the government could not ignore theOpposition or adjourn the House sine die as it had to come back to this very Opposition for the Budget session.
“In his affidavit to the apex court, the PM admitted to having received two of my letters on the issue. But he passed them on to A Raja, making the accused a judge in his own case. The PM failed in his duty and must answer for this dereliction. In 1991, the Harshad Mehta scam JPC had summoned Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister. Why’s he afraid now?” CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta asked, the CPM in tow.
Even the RJD and the BSP, which disfavoured the JPC earlier, today said they would side with the majority view to restore the House functioning. The DMK agreed to JPC, provided it started probing from 1998. The AIADMK wants the JPC to go back to 1994 when the telecom sector was first privatised. Practically everyone was for the JPC.
That leaves the government with just two options - get excess demands for grants passed and adjourn the House sine die or order a JPC. The latter, said political observers, was more likely though Pranab today said he would first discuss the issue with the PM who was to return this afternoon from an official function in Puttaparti.