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Parliament committee turf war intensifies

The turf war over Parliamentary probe into the 2G spectrum probe intensified on Monday with Congress and DMK members of the PAC opposing continuance of its inquiry into the issue, a demand rejected by the Opposition members.

delhi Updated: Apr 04, 2011 21:40 IST

The turf war over Parliamentary probe into the 2G spectrum probe intensified on Monday with Congress and DMK members of the PAC opposing continuance of its inquiry into the issue, a demand rejected by the Opposition members.

P C Chacko, head of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which is also inquiring into the spectrum allocation scam, added fuel to the fire declaring that it would be "desirable" if the PAC, headed by BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi, suo motu withdraws from it.

Joshi, who chaired a meeting of the PAC on Monday, however, sought to parry queries on the issue when it was raised at the media. Only on Friday, Chacko and Joshi had met Lok Sabha Speaker to discuss the turf war raging between them.

In the PAC meeting on Monday, the issue of conflict between the two Parliamentary bodies was discussed threadbare.

The PAC was a divided house with Congress and DMK members speaking against the continaunce of the probe by the Committee while the opposition members seeing no wrong in the exercise.

The refrain of the opposition members in the PAC was that the probe should continue and a report should be filed by the month-end so that the outgoing members who have dealt with the matter can also contribute.

"When PAC started looking into the matter, several agencies were already going into it and we had not objected and the same should be the attitude of the JPC", an opposition member said.

Chacko said that in Thrissur "If the PAC withdrew from the probe on its own, it would help avoid duplication of looking into the same subject by two panels".

He said that enquiry by two agencies into the same subject would also amount to violation of parliamentary rules and procedures.

Joshi, at the briefing in Delhi on the PAC deliberations, dismissed as "hackneyed" all questions relating to the turf war.

He said the issue was with the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and both he and Chacko have presented their cases to her.

In reply to another question, he said the PAC deals only with implementation of policies. "We don't discuss policy issues.....We can only make recommendations about policies".

A senior Congress leader, who declined to be identified, alleged of a larger BJP gameplan to keep the 2G spectrum scam alive till the next Lok Sabha elections.

He alleged that a proactive PAC chief was part of a BJP plan to ensure the PAC report by the end of the Monsoon session of Parliament, much in time for Assembly polls next year.

According to the leader, the opposition strategy was two-fold: ensuring an early report by the PAC headed by Joshi and prolong the work of the JPC so that its report would be available in time for the Lok Sabha elections.

The comments of the Congress leader came on a day when the PAC quizzed Ratan Tata and controversial lobbyist Niira Radia in connection with the 2G case which is being dubbed by the opposition as the biggest scam in independent India.

Ït is not normal for two parliamentary committees to inquire into the same subject. The JPC, with specific terms of reference, has been unanimously endorsed by Parliament and a parallel probe into the same subject is to be avoided", was the logic of Chacko at a Meet-the-Press programme.

In Thrissur, Chacko said that all the opposition parties had unanimously demanded for the JPC investigation in the matter as the PAC inquiry would not be enough to book the accused in the spectrum scam.

The dominant opinion of the JPC members was that the PAC's domain was limited to looking into the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General, Chacko said adding "but the latter transgressed its limit by looking into the issues of telecom licence policy".

Besides, he said if former ministers Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha (both of the BJP) were allowed to continue on the JPC, he would be forced to ask them to go out of the meeting when issues concerning them were discussed, Chacko said.

At the AICC briefing, party spokesman Manish Tewari said at a time when the PAC has enlarged its scope, the BJP should introspect whether there was real need of a JPC, an issue on which it paralysed the entire winter session of Parliament or was the whole matter politically motivated.

Meanwhile, the Speaker continued her consultations on the ticklish issue and had a meeting with parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Monday.