Will discuss phone tapping, IPL with opposition: Pranab
The government is committed to discussing with the opposition the Indian Premier League (IPL) controversy and allegations of phone tapping raised by it, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee assured the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Mukherjee said he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would speak to opposition leaders on the issues and said the government was answerable to the house.
The minister's assurance came after opposition AIADMK MPs gathered near the speaker's podium, demanding the resignation of Communications Minister A. Raja on his alleged role in the spectrum scam, when the house re-assembled at 2 p.m.
After pacifying the AIADMK MPs and sending them back, Deputy Speaker Karia Munda allowed opposition leaders to speak on the allegations.
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the government was answerable to the house on the issues raised on the floor of the house. She cited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement through the media on the opposition's demand in the house for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe on the IPL.
The prime minister Monday night told reporters on the sidelines of the defence investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan that the phone tapping and IPL controversy were not fit cases to constitute a JPC for.
"It is the first responsibility of the prime minister to satisfy the house. Whatever you do, you do in the house," Sushma Swaraj said. The BJP also stuck to its demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on the IPL and phone tapping issues
When Pranab Mukherjee said the government would consider the opposition's demand, Swaraj questioned the government's sincerity. "What is your consideration? What is your reply?" she asked.
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav said: "IPL, phone tapping and corruption (spectrum scandal) are interlinked. We wish to see something from the government in this regard."
Responding to the oppositon leaders' demand, Mukherjee said the opposition had raised three, four issues and "we will have opportunities of meeting with leaders of the opposition parties".
The issue of the spectrum scam surfaced Wednesday after a report of the tapping of phone conversations between a high-profile lobbyist and PR firm owner and Communications Minister A. Raja revealing alleged wrongdoing in the allocation of 2G Spectrum.
A front-paged report in The Pioneer Wednesday said: "The cat is finally out of the bag. The CBI has acquired clinching evidence showing that a high-profile woman public relations lobbyist acted as powerbroker in the multi-crore 2G spectrum scam and that she was in regular touch with Telecom Minister A. Raja."
"The investigating agency unearthed damning evidence of wheeling-dealing in the spectrum scam by authorised tapping of telephones of several persons, including Nira Radia, who runs several public relations and consultancy companies - like Vaishnavi Corporate Consultants, Noesis Strategic Consulting Services, Vitcom Consulting and Neucom Consulting," the report said.