Monday saw yet another duel of words over the second generation spectrum scandal. The BJP stuck to its position on the need for a Joint Parliamentary Committee. Spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the Prime Minister should not be hesitant to appear before such a committee if he had done no wrong. His statement came soon after Manmohan Singh sent a letter to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) offering to answer questions on the second generation spectrum scandal. The PAC is headed by veteran politician Murli Manohar Joshi. Later in the day, Joshi declared his committee could also investigate alleged telecom corruption in the period before 2004. That’s a time when his own party, the BJP, was in power.
And in corporate news, oil firm ONGC wants to increase its ownership in a government-run aviation company. It plans to hike its stake in Pawan Hans Helicopters to 49% from the current 21%. The increased stake is expected to cost around Rs96 crore. Meanwhile, ONGC has also agreed to give Pawan Hans a Rs275 crore loan for a period of five years. Stocks of ONGC closed 0.42% higher on the BSE at about Rs1300.10.
In other news, oil prices shot up to a 26-month high on Monday only to ease in the hours ahead. US February crude jumped to an intraday high of $91.81 per barrel. And ICE Brent crude reached a peak of $93.80. A weakened US dollar and this year’s harsh winter have fuelled a 35% hike in oil prices since May.
And before we leave you, here’s how markets did on Monday. The Sensex lost 45 points to finish at 20,029. And the Nifty fell 13 to close at 5,998.