The NDA and United National Progressive Alliance (Third Front) on Monday sought the constitution of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to examine the civil nuclear deal with the United States, a demand that was immediately rejected by the government.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said JPCs were usually constituted to go into scams. “How can the deal be termed a scam,” he asked.
A meeting of NDA leaders chaired by Leader of Opposition LK Advani asked the government to set up a parliamentary panel to study the Indo-US nuclear deal and opposed the suggestion to set up an expert group to examine the concerns voiced by the Left.
The BJP’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, VK Malhotra, said: "This is not a family affair of the UPA and Left. It’s an issue that concerns the entire nation. The government should put in place some parliamentary mechanism, something like a committee comprising members of both Houses, to study the agreement."
The TDP, AIADMK and Samajwadi Party also raised the demand for a JPC in the Rajya Sabha. “We are in touch with the Left parties. They have said that the sense of the House should be taken on the deal. This is the best way for that,” said Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh.
“The government has said that the treaty has been ratified by the Cabinet, which is a handful of people picked up by the Prime Minister. But since Parliament is supreme in a democracy like India, the deal should be ratified by both the Houses,” Singh added.
Malhotra also said that "the government must wait for the recommendations of such a committee and until then, the process should be halted." The Opposition, however, has no immediate plan to bring a no-confidence motion against the government.
The NDA leaders also decided to raise in Parliament agriculture policy as well as the release of Bofors case accused Ottavio Quattrocchi in Argentina.