The government on Thursday succeeded in its third attempt to appoint two Rajya Sabha MPs to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probing the 2G telecom spectrum allocation scam amid strong protests from the Opposition, which stalled the House proceedings for the day.
The adoption of the government’s motion by a voice vote despite stiff resistance by the Opposition MPs, will allow the ruling UPA to have an upper hand in the bitterly divided 30-member JPC since the number of MPs supporting it will go up to 16.
The government moved a resolution to appoint Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya and nominated member Ashok Ganguly to the 30-member JPC to fill up the vacancies caused by the retirement of DMK’s Tiruchi Siva and the resignation of EMS Natchiappan after he became a minister.
The government had earlier tried to bring this resolution first on August 20, which was disallowed by deputy chairperson PJ Kurien since it was not mentioned in the official list of business and its second attempt to push the names of two MPs was foiled by the Opposition on August 22.
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs, Rajeev Shukla said the government had consulted the leaders of different political parties before moving the resolution and denied the BJP charge that the ruling coalition was trying to engineer a majority by replacing a retiring Opposition nominee with its “own” MP.
This was countered by the Leader of the Opposition, Arun Jaitley who warned the government against setting a wrong precedent. “From time immemorial, a parliamentary committee always represents the strength of various parties in the House. It is proportionate; it is never winner takes all,” he said.
Jaitley said the governmment’s decision to push the names of its own nominees was “against parliamentary norms” and would have far-reaching consequences for the future of parliamentary democracy.
Later, Jaitley wrote to the Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari protesting against the government’s move, saying it violated the established parliamentary norms.