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Face JPC or quit; BJP tells PM, Congress rejects; says PMO is clear and clean
Published on 23 Dec. 2010 12:13 AM IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday asked Manmohan Singh to quit if he was not ready for a joint parliamentary probe into the spectrum scandal, but the Congress hit back, saying there was no question of the prime minister resigning.
At a “Mahasangram Rally” of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Ramlila ground here, BJP leaders came down heavily on the Congress-led government and Manmohan Singh. They also hit out at the government on the rising prices of essentials including onions.
It was the first show of strength by the BJP and its allies which are trying to broaden their coalition by sharpening attacks on the government, after unprecedented protests washed out parliament’s winter session. BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who heads the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, asked the prime minister to give up his job if he was not ready to face a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) over the raging spectrum scandal.
He said only a JPC would be able to find out why second generation spectrum was allotted at below market prices in 2008 by the now disgraced DMK leader and former communications minister A. Raja.
The prime minister has said he was ready to face a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to answer questions but was against a JPC. Both PAC and JPC are made up of MPs from all parties but have varying mandates.
Jaitley said this was unacceptable to the opposition. “Give answers to questions being raised or resign,” he thundered.
BJP star and former deputy prime minister L.K. Advani was at his aggressive best as he accused Manmohan Singh of acting at the behest of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, addressing her as “10 Janpath”.
Advani did not echo Jaitley’s call for the prime minister’s resignation but maintained that Manmohan Singh had the power to give the go ahead for a JPC probe into the spectrum scandal. Instead, he appealed to Manmohan Singh to give up his ‘no-JPC’ stance.
“I am making my final appeal... Please accept the demand and say what you want to say (at the JPC),” he said. Sushma Swaraj of BJP, who heads the opposition in the Lok Sabha, was equally critical.
“Why are they afraid of JPC?” she asked, referring to the prime minister and the Congress, Among those who attended the rally were leaders of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Akali Dal and Shiv Sena.
Sushma Swaraj attacked the government on price rise, saying the rising prices of food items was also linked to corruption.
The Congress took no time to reject the BJP demand that Manmohan Singh should quit.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi hit out at the BJP, saying it had not taken any action against its Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa although he had been charged with corruption.
“The PMO (prime minister’s office) is run in a clear, clean manner,” he said.
BJP leaders said similar NDA rallies would be held in Guwahati, Mumbai, Chennai, Kanpur, Rohtak, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad in the next two months.
Special session offered
With the Opposition remaining adamant on JPC probe into 2G scam, Government today offered to convene a special session of Parliament to discuss whether to set up such a committee.
“If they (the opposition) assure that there will be a debate, I am ready to call a special session of Parliament before the Budget session so that this issue (setting up of a JPC) is debated,” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at an award function. He said the Opposition should discuss the issue on the floor of Parliament and “not destroy the institution itself”.
Mukherjee was responding when asked to comment on a remark by BJP president Nitin Gadkari that his party is ready to cooperate with the government in the Budget session but only on the condition that the ruling alliance appoint a JPC.
The government’s offer is believed to be aimed at ending the stand-off with the Opposition over the JPC issue so that the Budget session does not go same way as the Winter session of Parliament which was completely washed out.
The government has maintained that it JPC was not necessary to look into the 2G spectrum allocation and the task could be performed by the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has even offered to appear before the PAC.
However, the opposition has been adamant on JPC probe, arguing that PAC had a limited mandate and could not probe aspects beyond auditing.

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