New Delhi: In a fresh bid to end the deadlock in Parliament, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar met the leaders of the Left and other non-BJP opposition parties today, but failed to break the logjam.
CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, CPI(M) politburo member Sitaram Yechury and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav are among the leaders who attended today's meeting.
The latest effort by the Speaker follows her failed meeting with BJP leaders on Thursday to bridge the differences as the main Opposition insisted on a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam and put the onus of ending the impasse on the ruling coalition.
The luncheon meeting called by Kumar was attended by the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and senior BJP leader LK Advani. At the two-hour meeting, both the government and the Opposition leaders agreed that the logjam was a matter of concern, but had divergent views on ending it. The BJP leaders made it clear that they would accept nothing less than JPC probe into the scam, which the government is not ready to accept.
The Speaker, however, was hopeful that the deadlock would end before the next session of Parliament.
"Both sides are very keen that the next session (of Parliament) should run in order ... I am very, very optimistic on how the events will unfold," she said.
Through the Winter Session of Parliament, the stand-off between the Opposition and the government over a JPC ensured that the entire session virtually saw no business being conducted. As a compromise, the Prime Minister has offered to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which is studying the 2G spectrum scam as reported by the government's auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
The Prime Minister stressed that this is an unprecedented offer. The BJP responded that it didn't want the Prime Minister to break the tradition, and that it's not going to budge from its JPC war cry.
The government says that several agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are detailing how the 2G scam was executed. A Raja as Telecom Minister is accused of under-valuing 2G spectrum to favour companies who applied for mobile licenses in 2008. The government's auditor said in November that Raja cost the government upto Rs 1.76 lakh crore. That sealed Raja's fate, forcing him to resign from the Cabinet.
The CBI has since raided the homes of A Raja and his associates. It is also studying the phone conversations between PR executive Niira Radia and politicians and industrialists to determine whether Radia lobbied for her clients to win 2G licenses, and influenced the government to reinduct Raja as Telecom Minister after the UPA won the general elections in 2009.
The government points to these lines of inquiry as proof that a JPC is not needed. Constituting this new committee, made up of different parties, would only slow down the 2G investigation, argue its critics, most of who are part of the government.
The PM's offer to answer questions posed by the PAC was prompted by suggestions that the government doesn't want to set up a JPC because it will have the power to summon the Prime Minister and his colleagues.