Second half of Parliament Budget Session
UPA continues to commit blunders over blunders. When it found itself fully grilled in 2G scam and the pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram to resign, it committed two more blunders—managed a clean chit from JPC for both the PM and the FM, and calculatedly dragged former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajapyee’s name in the scam. Everybody knows that Shri Vajpayee has no involvement in the 2G scam. The Congress is repeatedly trying to create the atmosphere that why blame only the Congress, BJP leaders too are corrupt. It is the same trick, which was played with Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev and many others, who raised a voice against Congress misdeeds.
The second half of Parliament budget session began on April 22. As was expected, the Opposition on first day itself grilled the government over two main issues—brazen clean chit to PM and FM in 2G scam and tampering with the CBI status report in coal block allocation scam by Law Minister Ashwani Kumar. The Opposition insisted on PM’s resignation and immediate removal of the Law Minister. But the Congress outrightly rejected the demand, which proves that whatever was done by Ashwani Kumar or, by PM and FM was done with the approval of the Congress high command.
On first day itself, the BJP and DMK, gave notices for moving breach of privilege motion in both Houses against JPC chairman PC Chacko for leakage of the panel’s report on 2G. BJP MP Yashwant Sinha and DMK leader TR Balu gave separate notices in Lok Sabha, while BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad submitted a similar notice in Rajya Sabha. “The way the JPC draft report was made public by none other than the Chairman himself in order to condemn the NDA regime and hold us guilty, is a case in point that they are playing pure politics,” Shri Sinha told Organiser.
The same day former Telecommunication Minister in the UPA government, A Raja, rubbished the JPC clean chit to PM and FM and submitted a 100 page report holding the PM and FM equally responsible for the decisions taken in the spectrum allotment. Accusing PC Chacko of denying him an opportunity to depose before the JPC, he produced the meeting details with the PM along with Chidambaram.
Seeing the mood of the entire Opposition, PC Chacko adjourned the last meeting of the JPC on April 25. The Committee met to consider the draft report amidst indications that a vote could decide the issue. It may be held early next week, as the term of the panel expires on May 10, which is also the last day of the Budget Session of the Parliament. Agitated opposition members then petitioned the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar seeking Chacko’s removal, and accusing him of ‘highly partisan, unfair and prejudicial’ conduct.
The 14 members belonging to eight political parties (BJP, JD(U), CPI, CPM, TMC, BJD, DMK and AIADMK) gave separate complaints expressing complete lack of confidence in the JPC Chairman. They also accused Chacko of being biased, and asked the Lok Sabha Speaker to appoint another member as JPC Chairman. Under the rules, while members of the JPC are elected by both the Houses of Parliament, the Chairman is appointed by the Speaker, whose discretion it will be whether to remove a chairman.
On April 24, JPC member Shri Yashwant Sinha made a fresh appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to appear before the panel and clear the air over his alleged role in the 2G spectrum scam. “Your deafening silence on the allegations made by your own former colleague in the Cabinet (A Raja) comple-tely invalidates the stand you had taken (that you had nothing to hide). Is it not time, Mr Prime Minister that you speak on these issues by appearing before the JPC? Your silence will confirm the worst fears of the people of India that you were fully involved in the 2G scam and if Raja is guilty so are you,” Shri Sinha said in the letter. He also told the PM that the “statement of your own former Minister to a Parliamentary Committee constitutes a set of serious allegations of your personal involvement” in the 2G scam.
In 30-member JPC, Congress has 11 members, including Chacko, and its ally Nationalist Congress Party has one member. The role of three members of BSP and SP, both outside allies of Congress, are keenly watched as to whether they would come to the rescue of the government in case of a vote in the Committee when it meets next.
In order to counter the opposition move against Chacko, the Congress members in JPC met the Speaker to demand removal of the BJP members Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad, on the ground of ‘conflict of interest’. Shri Sinha reacted strongly on this demand of Congress members and described the ruling party members as ‘illiterate’. He said the same demand was made by Congress members immediately after the constitution of the Committee, through election by the House, and the Speaker had rejected it. The BJP leader quoted from the Speaker’s ruling of May 18, 2011, that the demand of the Congress members ‘was not in order’.