Monday, December 13, 2010

JPC in Parliament: Telecom stalemate longest-ever deadlock over

NEW DELHI: The stalemate in Parliament on the telecom issue was the longest-ever over the demand of a JPC in independent India.

The just-concluded winter session of Parliament saw the longest shutdown of 22 working days of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha over opposition demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

In 1996, a CBI raid on former Telecom Minister and Congress leader Sukh Ram's residences at Delhi and Mandi and recovery of cash had led to a 13-day uproar in Parliament by the BJP.

The 2G spectrum allocation issue proved to be such a volatile affair that the Lok Sabha could barely function for seven hours and 30 minutes during the total 23 sittings, thereby losing 124 hours and 40 minutes in the just concluded session.

The situation occurred amid official reports of a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore on account of alleged allocation of spectrum at lower rates.

As its relations with the government have turned frosty, opposition has even threatened to carry the stalemate to the budget session still more than two months away.

According to Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal, Parliament was paralysed for eight days in 2001 over the demand for a JPC into the securities scam allegedly involving Ketan Parekh.

Bansal said proceedings in Parliament were stalled only for one-and-a-half day in July 1987 on the demand for JPC into the Bofors kickback issue.

The motion for JPC on Bofors was moved by the then defence minister K C Pant and there was discussion on it for three days after which it was accepted.

But this was disputed by the BJP whose senior leader M Venkaiah Naidu claimed that Parliament was disrupted for "43-44" days over the demand for a JPC on Bofors.

There was no disturbance in Parliament over the demand for a JPC probe into the Harshad Mehta case in 1992, he said.

The demand for the JPC into the issue of pesticide residue in soft drinks was accepted without much din in Parliament.

Bansal said Congress, while it was in the opposition, had demanded JPCs on the Tehelka expose and the coffin scam, but the then NDA Government had not agreed to that despite protests for three days.


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