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Meira fails to break logjam

New Delhi, Nov. 30: The all-party meeting called by Speaker Meira Kumar today failed to break the deadlock in Parliament as both the government and the Opposition refused to budge from their positions.

While the government asserted that a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the spectrum scam was not acceptable, the Opposition maintained nothing less would do.

Sources revealed that the government may start passing supplementary grants for different ministries from tomorrow — despite the din — as there appears to be no possibility of a meeting ground between the two sides. The government has so far not thought of adjourning Parliament sine die but that decision may be reviewed early next week.

Some sections in the government insisted on running Parliament in the same way till the scheduled closure on December 13.

Asked if there was any question of revisiting the JPC issue, a Congress leader said: “We are convinced the JPC is nothing but a tool for political drama. Can the JPC achieve something that the CBI, Supreme Court, Enforcement Directorate, income tax, CAG and the public accounts committee cannot do together?”

Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj argued that Parliament could not abdicate its right because investigative agencies were doing their job. She said the JPC should be removed from the rulebook if it cannot achieve any purpose, as claimed by the ruling side.

Swaraj admitted that one of the prime reasons for the JPC demand was to ensure that the Prime Minister and other ministers are summoned for questioning.

The Congress said this was why the Centre would not accept the demand. “They want this to be used for political grandstanding. Any good work by the government over the next few years will be washed out by selective leaks from the JPC…. the report will be on party lines and achieve nothing,” a leader said.

In Calcutta, Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee said before leaving for Delhi: “We want that there should be a discussion in the House. The government also wants that, and we support it.”

The Congress argued that the people would ultimately judge parties on the basis of action against corruption, not merely rhetoric. Spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the BJP had “selective morality” and never acted on cases during its regime.

Recalling scandals like Coffingate, defence purchases, Tehelka, land scams and undervaluation in disinvestment of PSUs, he asked if the country had witnessed a JPC, CBI or ED probe in any of these cases.

Sources said Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee confronted the NDA with these facts at the meeting, leaving some leaders extremely angry. Singhvi said: “The BJP’s record in fighting corruption is abysmal. It is a drama company that does only breast-beating on corruption with double face and crass hypocrisy.”

The Opposition leaders said the government was not agreeing to the JPC as it feared skeletons would tumble out. They told the Lok Sabha Speaker they were ready to resume work in Parliament from tomorrow if the JPC demand was accepted and even sit till late at night to make up for lost hours.

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