With the Congress assured of an upper hand, perhaps now the chairman of the JPC, P C Chacko, may be ready to infuse fresh life into the practically defunct panel probing the telecom scam.
The 30-member committee has not met since February 12, thanks to a deadlock between factions supporting and opposing Chacko’s controversial draft report, giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram. Fifteen members, belonging to the BJP, JD(U), CPI, CPM, TMC, BJD, DMK and AIADMK, had submitted memoranda to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar expressing their “no-confidence” in the “partisan” Chacko and seeking his removal. With half the committee against him, Chacko had proceeded to not call a meeting for the adoption of the draft. On September 4, he secured an extension till the last day of the next session in the LS to finish his report. The renewed government interest can be sourced to the change in the complexion of the panel, with the nomination of Ashok Ganguly, an Independent member of the RS, considered close to the Congress.
Ganguly has been brought in as a replacement for Tiruchi Siva of the DMK following the end of his Rajya Sabha term. The motion for the induction of Ganguly was carried through by the government despite stiff resistance by the BJP.
Ganguly’s induction means the Congress now has the numbers on its side. Apart from him and its 12 members, it can count on the backing of Yogendra Trivedi of the NCP and the BSP’s Satish Mishra and Dara Singh Chauhan. Shailendra Kumar of the SP too is unlikely to go with the Opposition. Though the JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav and Ram Chandra Prasad Singh are unlikely to go with the Congress, they are not with the BJP either. T R Baalu of the DMK was aligned with the Opposition earlier due to the A Raja factor, but the party has softened its stand towards the Congress after it backed Kanimozhi in the RS election.
Those against the government include the BJP’s six members, the CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, the CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta, Kalyan Banerjee of the TMC, Arjun Charan Sethi of the BJD and M Thambidurai of the AIADMK. This being the line-up, Chacko can obviously move ahead and force his report through.
Pradeep is a special correspondent based in Delhi