The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Opposition sharpens scam sword for House

New Delhi, Nov. 30: Corruption, India-Pakistan relations and the ethnic strife in Assam are likely to dominate the winter session of Parliament that begins on December 2.

The shadow of Ayodhya, however, may recede because December 6, the day the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992, is a Saturday, when the House will be on holiday. The Opposition and the BJP have used the day year after year to force adjournments of the House.

The opening week, BJP sources said, was likely to be a “non-starter” because both Houses would be adjourned the first day to condole the death of Union minister Murasoli Maran of the DMK.

BJP leaders, they added, were likely to seek Speaker Manohar Joshi’s advice whether the House should function on December 4, the day the poll results will be declared. “No party will want anything important to be transacted that day as everybody will be busy monitoring the results,” a party leader said.

The Congress parliamentary party will meet tomorrow at Sonia Gandhi’s home to identify issues and chalk out strategy.

The main Opposition party, irrespective of the poll outcome, is gearing up to corner the Centre on corruption, the core theme of its poll campaign against its main rival. “We will have a full debate, which will lead to a lot of undressing in Parliament,” Congress chief spokesperson S. Jaipal Reddy said.

A parliamentary party member added that the Congress was determined to go on the “offensive” even on the stamp paper scam that has cast a shadow on some of its state governments.

“We will seek details from the government on the National Security Press (at Nashik), which is directly under the Union finance ministry and not the Maharashtra government. We want to know what are the security arrangements there, whether the machines were purchased through an auction, who the bidders were,” he said.

The Congress as also the CPM, whose parliamentary party met today, would seek a statement from the Prime Minister on the alleged siphoning off of public sector unit (PSU) funds by six ministers who were purportedly named by the chief vigilance commissioner in a report.

“Why did the chief vigilance commissioner meet the Prime Minister when the commission is an independent body' Why did he have to make a public statement'” CPM sources said.

Commissioner P. Shanker had denied that the six ministers named in the media had “milked” the PSUs. Reddy, however, said: “We will confront the government on the floor of Parliament to disclose the identity of the ministers.”

Other corruption-related issues in the Opposition’s scanner include the Dilip Singh Judeo cash-on-disc controversy.

The latest reciprocal peace measures to foster India-Pakistan ties, the proposed talks with the Hurriyat and the Prime Minister’s likely January visit to Islamabad are also on the agenda.

CPM sources said the party would demand a discussion on the Assam situation. “The Assam killings have encouraged divisive sentiments in others states like Maharashtra,” a source said.

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