The winter session is heading for a no-show after an all-party meeting on Tuesday failed to break the logjam over a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam.
Even Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar's last minute proposal at the luncheon meeting to at least allow the question hour was turned down by the nearly united opposition.
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) that had remained ambivalent till now also joined others in demanding a JPC probe.
"How will that help? If the government can't give a JPC, Parliament won't be able to function," BJP's Sushma Swaraj said.
Rejecting the demand, parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said it does not fit in the rules of Parliament. "This meeting could not bring about the results we expected," he said.
Bansal also said the Opposition was expanding the ambit on which it seeks JPC and wants the loan scam unearthed by the CBI to be brought in its purview. "This is preposterous."
The meeting also saw a combative finance minister Pranab Mukherjee arguing with opposition members. He rejected the demand and cited the outcome of previous JPC investigations on issues such as Bofors and Tehelka.
As a way out, Mukherjee suggested investigation by the public accounts committee (PAC) or a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe into the scam.
Telecom minister Kapil Sibal echoed these views.
"Surely there can be no greater credibility of a probe than one monitored by the apex court itself," he said.
Unlike other previous scams, Sibal said, the JPC would also be unable to recommend future policy directions in this case due to the unpredictability inherent in fast advancing technologies involved in the telecom sector.
But the Opposition refused to budge. "PAC has its limitations and only a JPC can fully probe the issue," AIADMK leader M Thambidurai said.
The government has indicated it might get the supplementary demand for grants passed by voice vote without any debate this week.
Earlier, about 80 MPs from non-NDA opposition parties marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan to urge President Pratibha Patil to "advise" the UPA to set up a JPC.