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JPC issue divides Congress
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, February 9
There are sharp divisions in the Congress over reports that the UPA government is inclined to concede to the Oppositionís demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe in the 2G Spectrum scam to ensure the smooth functioning of the Budget session.

Although a final decision on this will be taken after the matter is discussed by the members of the Congress core committee headed by party president Sonia Gandhi, the tone and tenor of the all-party meeting convened by Lok Sabha leader Pranab Mukherjee yesterday suggested that the government was inclined to accept the Oppositionís demand. While maintaining that they do not want the forthcoming session to be washed out like the previous one, Opposition parties remained adamant on their demand for a JPC probe.

Having rejected the Opposition demand over two months ago, the change in the ruling dispensationís attitude has not been received well by a section in the Congress which believes that it should not give in to Opposition pressure, especially since it has responded to the allegations of corruption through a series of concrete steps.

It is being argued that by agreeing to the demand for a JPC, the government will not only allow the Opposition to keep the corruption issue alive for the next couple of years, but will also negate the measures it has already initiated against those charged in the various financial scams which have come to light.

"If we had to agree to a JPC, then we should have done so in the initial stages itself and saved the winter session," remarked a senior Congress leader, adding that the UPA government would be handing over an unnecessary victory to the Opposition now. Most importantly, it is felt, a JPC would undermine Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's position as the Opposition has made it abundantly clear that it is pushing for a parliamentary probe primarily because it wants to grill the PM.

The suggestion that the government would concede a JPC only after a debate in Parliament has also not found favour with several Congress leaders who felt that a debate whose result is decided in advance would not serve any purpose. On the contrary, it would again focus attention on an issue, which has already pushed the government on the backfoot.

However, there is a another section in the party which believes the government had no choice in the matter as all the measures it has taken so far, including Raja's arrest, have failed to budge the Opposition.

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