Congress succeeds in getting JPC’s draft report on 2G spectrum adopted3 min read . Updated: 27 Sep 2013, 11:30 PM IST
Sixteen members of Congress, allies vote in favour of adopting the report; 11 opposition members vote against it
New Delhi: The ruling Congress party succeeded on Friday in getting the draft report on irregularities in the allocation of second generation (2G) spectrum and licences adopted by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) by a majority vote, overcoming resistance from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Opposition members objected to the JPC report because it absolves both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P. Chidamabaram of responsibility in what is known as the 2G scam that dates back to 2008.
The BJP faced embarrassment after its senior-most leader in the committee, Gopinath Munde, skipped the meeting on Friday. With the two representatives of the Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), also skipping the meeting, the majority tilted in favour of the Congress.
Leaders of the BJP, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) made the point that the report was incomplete because A. Raja, who was telecom minister when the spectrum and licences were granted, had not been called before the committee, nor were the Prime Minister and the finance minister questioned by the members. Raja belongs to the DMK.
JPC chairman P.C. Chacko of the Congress, however, decided to put the draft report to vote. Sixteen members of the Congress and its allies voted in favour of adopting the report, while 11 members of the opposition voted against it. Sharad Yadav and R.C.P. Singh, both of the JD(U), were absent from the meeting.
“None of the opposition members demanded voting. It was the decision of P.C. Chacko," said T.R. Baalu, a DMK member of JPC.
The members who voted in favour of the report were the 11 belonging to the Congress, two of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Shailendra Kumar of the Samajwadi Party, Y.P. Trivedi of the Nationalist Congress Party, and Ashok Ganguly, who is a nominated member. Members of the BJP, the BJD, the Trinamool Congress, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the DMK and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) voted against it.
“The majority of the Congress-led alliance has been unashamedly used to adopt a report, which is based on falsehood and prejudicial findings without the consideration of the committee members," said Yashwant Sinha, a member of JPC from the BJP.
BJP leaders said the absence of JD(U) members at the meeting had tilted the vote in favour of the ruling party.
The BJP stalled the winter session of Parliament demanding a JPC probe of the 2G case, but the party faced embarrassment when Munde did not turn up at the committee’s last meeting.
The DMK tried to get the report rejected in the meeting. “I told the JPC members that this report must be rejected. The JPC has blamed A. Raja in its report and he has not even been allowed to give his side of the story. We have been demanding that more people should appear before the committee, but the government used its power of majority," said Baalu.
Chacko has given the JPC members two weeks to give dissent notes on the report. The JPC chairman will go through the dissent notes and remove any objectionable content. The report will be presented to the Lok Sabha speaker in one month.
On the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s estimate that the nation had suffered a notional loss of ₹ 1.76 trillion in the allocation of 2G spectrum, the JPC chairman said it was without any basis.
“It can be presented to the speaker by October end, and then the report will be presented to Parliament on any convenient date in the next session. After presentation of the report to Parliament, the government will have three months for giving its action-taken report," Chacko said.
The adoption of the report may have been an achievement for the Congress party, but it could affect its equations with the DMK, a key ally. Mint on Friday reported that JPC’s adoption of the report in the face of the DMK’s resistance risked damaging the Congress’s prospects of putting up a formidable electoral alliance against the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.