Opposition has destroyed the institution of Parliament: Pranab

The Hindu, December 24, 2010

?They have created a deadlock. They should apologise to the nation’

A day after his offer to hold a special session of Parliament to discuss whether or not to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the 2G spectrum scam as a way to break the parliamentary deadlock was rejected, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee trained his guns on the Opposition.

?In the entire winter session, they [Opposition] did not allow any opportunity for any discussion on any issue… They have created a deadlock in Parliament. They have destroyed the institution,? Mr. Mukherjee said on Wednesday. ?They should apologise to the nation.?

With speculation rife about the significance of Mr. Mukherjee’s offer ? incidentally also made by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal during the recent winter session of Parliament ? the Congress sources said that with the Opposition, particularly the Bharatiya Janata Party, taking a rigid position, the only way out was to create public opinion. Hence, Mr. Mukherjee made his offer in public to expose the ?unreasonableness? of the Opposition. Indeed, this comes two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), an offer that was also rejected by the BJP.

The Congress is also saying privately that it does not wish to set up a JPC, as it is sure that the Opposition, if it is not satisfied with its outcome, will say it has produced a ?tailored? report as the chairman will be a Congressman. ?Why should we carry the can for [the former Telecom Minister] Raja? He doesn’t belong to the Congress,? a party functionary said.

Meanwhile, Congress media chairperson Janardan Dwivedi, stressed that Mr. Mukherjee’s offer was a reiteration of the government’s and the party’s desire for a discussion in Parliament. It did not mean that any decision had been taken on holding a special session. The Opposition should have used the forum of Parliament to thrash out the issue, he said, even as the PAC would have completed its examination of the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s Report on the 2G scam.

The fact that the Opposition did not want a debate indicated that their demand for a JPC ? which Mr. Dwivedi stressed, would not be able to go beyond the various enquiries already in motion ? was ?politically motivated.? They want to stretch something that can be completed in three months ? the various enquiries into the 2G spectrum scam, currently under way ? into three years, he said. Mr. Dwivedi also accused the BJP of wishing to disrupt the progress the United Progressive Alliance government had made in the social sector, which had helped the UPA win a second consecutive mandate in 2009.

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