The Congress kept up with its ‘no JPC’ refrain on Friday but, at the same time, it sought to signal that it was reaching out to the Opposition by calling for a discussion and a vote in the Lok Sabha on whether a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) should be set up to probe the 2G spectrum scandal.
“We are open to discussing such a resolution in Parliament,” said Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan.
Her suo motu remarks at the party’s briefing on Friday assumed significance in the face of the continuing government-opposition deadlock on the issue, in spite of the arrest of former telecom minister A Raja.
In fact, during the winter session of Parliament, the BJP had rejected such a proposal as the Congress-led UPA could have outvoted it on the basis of its numerical majority in the Lok Sabha.
In resurrecting the proposal ahead of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s all-party meeting on February 8, the Congress hoped to put pressure on the Opposition — or sections of it — in cooperating to resolve the deadlock before the budget session of Parliament starts on February 21.
Natarajan denied the Congress was making the suggestion of a resolution, saying that the idea was already in the public domain. She also denied the party was softening its stand on a JPC.
“Our position (on JPC) remains the same…..The Public Accounts Committee has the power to go into the issue,” she said to a direct query whether the Congress was ready for a JPC.
However, she did not elaborate on who would bring the resolution if there was an agreement and whether it would also be brought in the Rajya Sabha where the UPA lacks a majority.
Reacting to questions on why the government was reviving the proposal, Natarajan claimed that a lot has happened since the stalemated winter session.
Congress believes the Opposition has been shifting its goal posts on telecom controversy by first seeking Raja’s resignation and then calling for his arrest and constitution of JPC.