Senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee will talk to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other Opposition leaders before Parliament reassembles on Monday, in a bid to break the two-week long House impasse over setting up a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the telecom scandal.
The Opposition insists on a JPC but the government is opposed to it, maintaining the public accounts committee (PAC) — headed by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi — going into the matter is enough.
So far there is no indication of a let up by either side.
Sources said the Congress Core Group, which includes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, decided Mukherjee would renew the government’s appeal that Parliament be allowed to function.
It was an echo of what the PM had said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday, when he appealed to parties to let Parliament function. He had promised action against anybody found guilty and pointed out various aspects of the issue were already being looked into by respective investigating agencies.
There is no word whether Mukherjee will go to with any alternative proposal or compromise formula when he contacts Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. But sources said both the PM and Gandhi were very keen that Parliament should start functioning normally again.
Last week, a section in the Congress had even mooted that the government allow a JPC with the rider that the probe should cover not just the current scam, but all decisions taken relating to spectrum from 1998 onwards. The NDA was in power from 1998 to 2004 and responsible for shaping telecom policy then. But the suggestion was never formally made.
BJP members had privately dubbed a rider-laced JPC as meaningless. “But let the proposal come formally first" a leader had said then.
Mukherjee had also told BJP’s L K Advani ahead of his all-party luncheon meeting last week that if the opposition wanted a JPC on 2G, it should also agree to one into into the illegal mining in Karnataka — a state now in a tailspin. This too was not accepted.
As on Sunday, the opposition, including the BJP and the Left, remained firm on their JPC demand. “Our campaign will continue as more facts have come to light which show it doesn't just involve one minister or one ministry and the ramifications on the system are far and wide," BJP chief Nitin Gadkari told HT.
But to keep the pressure up, the BJP will have to resolve its Karnataka tangle before Parliament reassembles on Monday as this issue is also likely to lead to disruptions.