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Govt offers talks, BJP harps on JPC

The BJP-led NDA is wary of entering into any dialogue with the government on the Indo-US nuclear deal issue outside the ambit of a JPC, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2007 03:34 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times

The BJP-led NDA is wary of entering into any dialogue with the government on the Indo-US nuclear deal issue outside the ambit of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC). The Opposition stuck to its demand despite Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s 40-minute meeting with Leaders of Opposition LK Advani and Jaswant Singh.

Mukherjee offered to engage them in a dialogue to “clear” their misgivings over the deal — though a formal mechanism like the one created for talks with the Left was not on the government’s agenda.

Advani said, “We do not see any point in a general dialogue without a JPC since the government and the Opposition have talked before too.”

“We are told by the government that, under the Constitution, Parliament cannot call into question an international agreement after the Cabinet has given approval,” said Advani, adding that the setting up of panel had pre-empted any debate in Parliament.

“But how can the government set up a private committee to go into the same agreement with the promise of taking its views into account when nothing can be done by Parliament to re-open it?”

Addressing a press conference along other NDA leaders, Advani attacked the 15-member UPA-Left committee on the nuclear deal as “parochial and partisan” arrangement to save the government. He alleged that the government has "voluntarily handed over" decision making to the CPI (M) and the Left Front.

Meanwhile, the CPI (M) on Wednesday wrote off the BJP’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to look into the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, saying since international treaties do not need Parliament’s ratification a JPC would have no relevance.

The Left party severely criticised the BJP for disrupting Parliament on “flimsy grounds” because the government rejected the party’s demand for a JPC. Basudeb Acharia, CPI (M)’s Lok Sabha leader, called the demand for a JPC “impractical and impossible.”

He said: “When Parliament has no authority to ratify international agreements, then a JPC is for what purpose? A JPC will have no right to recommend (on the deal) to the government. Can the JPC recommend that it should be scrapped?” Acharia added the Left parties have been pushing for a constitutional amendment to empower Parliament to have such authority.

With inputs from Sutirtho Patranobis

First Published: Sep 06, 2007 03:32 IST