The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong dilemma

New Delhi, Dec. 5: Ruling in 14 states and eyeing the Centre, the Congress appears to be confused about its stand on disinvestment.

Its allies in the Opposition as well as the Left parties opposed the policy in Parliament today and supported Shiv Sena member Sanjay Nirupam when he put disinvestment minister Arun Shourie in the dock over the Centaur hotel sale. However, the Congress hedged the issue in the Rajya Sabha while demanded a CBI probe into the deal in the Lok Sabha.

When the matter came up in the Lok Sabha, party chief whip Priya Ranjan Das Munshi joined other Opposition parties in demanding a CBI probe. In the Upper House, Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukherjee did not support the plea for a CBI inquiry.

Asked why the Congress did not demand a CBI probe in the Upper House like it did in the Lower House, spokesperson Anand Sharma said he would talk to party leaders.

The Congress dismissed allegations that it was siding with the government and said it would wait for the report of the law ministry before commenting on the matter.

“The allegations are not correct. Now the law ministry is seized of the matter. We will await its reply before making any comment,” Sharma said.

Asked about the party’s stand on the Opposition demand for a CBI inquiry, Sharma said: “The party position was clarified in the House itself by two senior members, including Manmohan Singh, leader of the Opposition in the upper House.”

When reminded that disinvestment minister Arun Shourie himself had accepted in the Rajya Sabha that the lease agreement was violated by the parties concerned, Sharma said: “Let the report of the law ministry come and we will reply”.

Asked if he was deviation from the party line in supporting CBI probe, Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said it was not a collective decision of the party but “an instant feeling”. He said it was a supplementary question in Parliament and members are free to air their views. “If I can articulate (for a CBI probe) at the party meeting, it is my success,” he said.

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