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Parliament least productive
New Delhi, DEC 13 (AGENCIES):
Published on 14 Dec. 2010 1:11 AM IST
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The last day of Parliament’s winter session was no different than the first - disruptions by the Opposition which led to both houses being adjourned. “We want JPC” chanted the Opposition - a war cry that has rung out in both houses of Parliament loudly, clearly and daily.
The JPC - Joint Parliamentary Committee - on the 2G scam has become the stand-off between the government which won’t sanction it, and the Opposition, which insists it’s a must-have. The winter freeze has meant that in 23 days, the Rajya Sabha assembled for just three hours and the Lok Sabha assembled for just seven hours. The cost of the winter session: Rs. 146 crores. “Sometimes, business not happening also yields results,” said the BJP’s LK Advani,
The 2G scam - which could amount to Rs. 1.76 lakh crores in losses for the government, according to its auditor - saw A Raja exit as Telecom Minister. The government points to his resignation, a CBI inquiry, and Supreme Court hearings as evidence of its intent to solve the who-dun-it. There’s also the Public Accounts Committee or PAC, headed by the BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi, which has begun questioning former Telecom officials about why and how 2G spectrum was virtually gifted to companies that were ineligible for it in 2008. But the Opposition says the matter is serious enough to merit a JPC. The government, it says, is worried by the JPC’s inherent authority to summon ministers and even the Prime Minister for explanations.
In defense, the Congress president struck out today. At a gathering of the party’s MPs, Sonia Gandhi asked, “Who are they to lecture us on corruption?” She asserted that while the Congress has sacked members accused of corruption, the BJP has refused to dismiss BS Yeddyurappa, the chief minister of Karnataka, who’s allegedly at the centre of a slide show of different land scams. The gravity of the impasse in parliament was summarized by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha today. “No debates or discussions on matters of public interest took place; no Special Mentions were made or laid on the Table; no Zero Hour interventions were sought; no questions were answered orally and no supplementary questions were raised. All sections of the house would perhaps introspect on the record of this session to seek the distinction between dissent remonstration agitation and disruption,” said Hamid Ansari.
The government has to figure out how to prevent a repeat of this impasse in the budget session in February. Moreover, at least one ally - Mamata Banerjee - has suggested she is not opposed to a JPC. That’s perhaps because her home state of West Bengal votes early next year and the Left there is using the JPC issue to attack the coalition. “The silence of the UPA allies is deafening,” said CPM leader Brinda Karat today, driving home a point that’s bound to be made again as political parties start ramping up their election campaigns.

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