New Delhi: The tug-of-war in Parliament on the 2G spectrum issue intensified on Monday with non-NDA opposition parties declaring that nothing short of a JPC will suffice and wanted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to appear before the panel.
“There is nobody who cannot be called. If Bill Clinton could be called by a parliamentary committee and if British Prime Minister could come....what is wrong in inviting our head of the government to explain,” CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said.
He was talking to reporters after 11 non-NDA opposition parties met to chalk out a common strategy on the issue as the government has consistently rejected the demand.
The BJP-led NDA has also made it clear that it stood for JPC and threatened that the winter session of Parliament, concluding this week, would not function till the demand is met.
Dasgupta also made it clear that the Opposition was not accusing anybody except former Telecom Minister A Raja.
Echoing similar views, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said the government knows that the Prime Minister was the most experienced person and he had faced JPC as Finance Minister.
“If that (JPC on 2G) happens, he will face it as Prime Minister. I do not think he is afraid of (facing JPC), if necessary, in the interest of the country. If somebody else is afraid, it is the problem of Congress,” he said.
Asked whether the Opposition can give an assurance that the Prime Minister will not be summoned before JPC, Yechury said, “the Opposition cannot give any assurance to presumed fears.”
Accusing the Prime Minister of “dereliction of duty”, Dasgupta said being the chief of the government, how can he be not held morally responsible while the “whole government is in the dock”.
He wondered how the Prime Minister could be isolated from the government.
“If the Prime Minister is called for a discussion, what is wrong,” he posed.
Leaders belonging to CPI-M, CPI, Forward Bloc, RSP, TDP, JD(S), AIADMK, AGP, BJD, MDMK and RLD squarely blamed the government for the Parliament stalemate.
CPI-M and CPI, however, had different views on whether the budget session next year will also not be allowed to function if the government did not concede to their demand for JPC.
“Naturally. If there is no JPC how can the budget session run. It entirely depends on the Congress. If Congress and UPA agree for JPC, why budget session even the rest of the winter session can continue,” Yechury said.
Dasgupta, however, said, “budget session will continue. We are not in favour of holding up the budget session even if the government does not accept JPC demand. There are other ways to protest. We will go to people against the government on this issue.”
Dismissing the government’s suggestion that the Public Accounts Committee was the right forum to go into the 2G issue, Yehcury said the PAC could examine every para of the CAG report, but the opposition’s demand is to probe what led to the irregularities and this was beyond the purview of PAC.
To a question on whether the Opposition MPs would also resign as they did in 1989 on the Bofors issue, he said, “that has not yet come to our agenda.”
Asked how do they view the decision of Congress MPs to forego their daily allowances for the days Parliament did not do business, Yechury said, “It reflects their guilty conscience.”
He said Opposition MPs are coming every day hoping Parliament would function but the ruling party members are disturbing the House.
“The government and the ruling coalition are squarely responsible for jettisoning the winter session based on their obstinate refusal to constitute JPC,” Yechury said.
Dasgupta said, “there is growing trend of authoritarianism within the government” and criticised the government for getting appropriation bills passed without any discussion.
Leaders of the 11 parties also decided to stage dharna in front of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament House complex tomorrow and “take the issue to the people”.
The non-NDA parties also attacked BJP over the issue of corruption saying the main opposition party’s fight against the evil smacks of opportunism.