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All decibels, no debate

If we had hoped for any clarity on the alleged telecom scam, it looks like we will have a long wait given the bedlam that has forced Parliament to adjourn five days in a row.

india Updated: Nov 18, 2010 22:29 IST

If we had hoped for any clarity on the alleged telecom scam, it looks like we will have a long wait given the bedlam that has forced Parliament to adjourn five days in a row. The Supreme Court has now asked the Centre to file an affidavit on the prime minister's silence on Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy's petition seeking sanction to prosecute former telecom minister A Raja in the 2G spectrum issue. The apex court has asked that this be filed by Saturday.

The court is on the right track in seeking to fix accountability and responsibility in what could turn out to be a scam of unprecedented proportions. There is legal opinion also that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was right in maintaining his counsel, pending the Central Bureau of Investigation probe findings into the matter. The law will take its own course. But this does not preclude discussing the conduct of a Cabinet minister and his possible implication in a scam in Parliament.

The Opposition has not allowed anyone to put forward an explanation, least of all the PM, by stalling proceedings. It is only when the government is allowed to put forward its point of view, howsoever unacceptable, that the matter can be debated and mechanisms formulated so that if there were any loopholes, they can be plugged for the future. As of now, everyone has put in his or her two bit from a former telecom minister to sundry bureaucrats to politicians from different parties. The result has been that the taxpayer, who will ultimately pay the price for any form of financial misappropriation, is thoroughly confused.

The Opposition should at least be willing to listen to the reasons as to why the government is not in favour of a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the telecom issue at present. It is only then that it can counter them and make its own case. By rushing to the well of the House and bringing proceedings to a standstill, the Opposition is doing a disservice to the public that is waiting patiently to hear how the plot unravels. The Comptroller and Auditor General's report has been tabled. It has not let the minister off the hook. The next logical step would be for the Public Accounts Committee to look into the matter.

This may not be quick enough for the Opposition and we can understand its frustration as well as its desire to make political capital out of this. But its disruptive tactics should not divert attention from the real issue of whether or not a massive scam was perpetrated by the minister. In the interest of transparency and probity in public life, the Opposition and the government have to work together to ensure that Parliament functions, something no one seems to be any mood to allow at the moment.