The ultimate casualty of the standoff between the government and the opposition over the joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on 2G spectrum scam could be the government’s hope of passing key legislations in the second half of its budget session.
In fact, a washout of the session is imminent if the deadlock is not broken. As the opposition members pressed for the removal of the JPC chief P C Chacko and the Congress has hit back by seeking exit of BJP’s Yaswant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad -- from the panel on the ground that they were in the NDA when telecom rules were framed.
In response, BJP leaders are firm in not lending any cooperation in the normal functioning of the Houses.
They held that the government, as a first step for normalcy in Parliament, will have to dump the JPC’s draft report that they say indicted the Vajpayee government and absolved Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the telecom muddle involving allocation of air waves -- was not negotiable.
Though the former PM is not named as being directly involved, BJP leaders won’t relent on the draft report pinning the blame on the NDA government, for “foregoing” revenue of Rs. 42,080.34 crore by offering a “migration package” to cellular operators.
As for the Congress “waking up” to demand the ouster of three BJP leaders because represented a “conflict of interest” in the panel, Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, said, “The Congress is waking up after two years about the so-called conflict of interest of our members. This is a clear sign of desperation.”
BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said the same demand was made by Congress immediately after the constitution of committee two years ago, through election by the House, and the Lower House Speaker had rejected it.
He quoted from Meira Kumar’s ruling in 2011, to say “the mere fact that they were ministers did not constitute any personal, pecuniary or direct interest in the matter and that it was presumed that Parliament was aware of this fact when it elected them as members of the JPC.”