The debate on the VVIP chopper scam took an unexpected turn in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
The government sprang a surprise by moving and passing a motion to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the controversial deal, even though the Opposition rejected the proposal and staged a walkout.
The future of the proposed JPC has become contentious, with the BJP, JDU, TMC and BJD opposing it, while the SP, BSP, Left and NDA ally Shiv Sena seemed inclined towards it.
Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said the proposal was “an exercise in futility and a diversionary tactic,” as MPs had no power to identify the bribe-takers in the Rs. 3,760-crore deal for purchasing 12 VVIP choppers.
“We have to find out who the bribe-takers (in India) are. This (forming a JPC) will send that endeavour into a tailspin. If the government has expressed its helplessness, then how is it conceivably possible for MPs to find out (the identity of bribe-takers),” Jaitley said, rejecting the motion moved by parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath.
The government’s enthusiasm to form a JPC despite the Opposition’s rejection of it was in stark contrast to the tussle over constituting a JPC on the 2G spectrum scam. The entire winter session of Parliament was washed out in 2010 as the government did not concede to the Opposition’s demand.
On the floor of the House, there was confusion in the Left as CPI opposed the JPC and the CPI(M) supported it. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury later confirmed that his party would be part of the JPC.
The Opposition wanted the CBI probe to be monitored by the Supreme Court, but the government’s managers argued that the matter could be tackled by the legislature without thrusting it into the judicial domain.
With the Opposition making it clear that it will boycott the JPC, the probe panel will not be of any help to defuse the political crisis.