Impasse on as Oppn insists on JPC

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 18 2010, 04:53am hrs
With the ruling dispensation forced to sacrifice Ashok Chavan and A Raja on charges of corruption, an emboldened Opposition now senses the opportunity to widen the net, drag in top functionaries of the government in a bid to neutralise what has been the UPAs USP in elections integrity and probity, as personified by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

This could lie behind the Oppositions refusal to relent on its demand for a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the alleged scams in 2G spectrum allocation, in the organising of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) and in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society project in Mumbai.

As the stalemate continued even after the all-party meeting convened by Leader of Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee, top BJP sources said they wouldnt allow functioning in the two Houses of Parliament until their demands are met. Mukherjee was non-committal on Tuesday telling them he would apprise the Prime Minister about their views and get back to them on Wednesday.

Raja has said that the Prime Minister was in the know of his decisions on 2G spectrum allocation. There was also correspondence between them. A JPC can seek the copies of correspondence, summon ministers and officials, send a questionnaire to the PMO, said a top BJP leader.

As far as the CWG is concerned, Opposition sources said that a JPC can summon senior Cabinet ministers like Jaipal Reddy and MS Gill and even the Delhi chief minister. As defence land is involved in Adarsh, we have to see the role of the Union defence ministry as well, said BJP sources.

The BJP was open to setting up one JPC for all the three issues or the constitution of three separate JPCs. Even if there is one JPC, the terms of reference can be formulated in such a way so that all the three issues are included. It is a matter of phraseology, which can be worked out, a senior BJP leader said.

CPI(M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said while his party was in favour of a JPC, the Left was not averse to another mechanism if it is credible and has similar terms of reference as a JPC. The Left is, however, not keen on JPCs for the other two issues CWG and Adarsh. As per the Lefts calculations, a JPC solely for 2G spectrum has the potential to widen the already surfacing rift between the Congress and the DMK, which suits the Left and its partner AIADMK with Assembly elections round the corner in Tamil Nadu. The DMK, sources said, would not like a situation wherein a JPC is set up solely for looking into the spectrum issue.

Raja has said everything was in the knowledge of the PM. He has dragged the PM into the entire decision-making ... He has pointed the needle of suspicion at the PM. The PMs role or his suggested culpability if that has to be (looked into), there is no better mechanism than the JPC, said Yechury.

Opposition sources said even if the JPC has a majority of UPA members, Opposition members could still manage to embarrass the government by involving senior UPA functionaries in the course of the probe. The Left was of the view that if a JPC is constituted, it should also look at the decisions of the previous NDA regime given Rajas assertions that he was following the policy of his predecessors in the NDA. The norms set by the NDA government will also be examined... This is an advantage for the present government, said Yechury.