But no JPC as yet

The government is delaying conveying its decision to the Opposition on its demand for setting up of a joint parliamentary committee to investigate the 2G spectrum allocation scandal — which has virtually paralysed the functioning of Parliament and thus put the Centre in the dock since the start of the Winter Session 10 days ago.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi did not refer the JPC demand in their speeches at a function to commemorate Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary here on Friday.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is Leader of the Lok Sabha, had called an all-party session Tuesday to discuss ways to break the logjam in Parliament — and after a structured meeting had told the leaders that he would get back after consulting the Prime Minister. But on Friday, Mr Mukherjee urged all parties end the stalemate which has stalled Parliament for the last six days.
“I am deeply concerned about the situation being created where Parliament cannot transact its business. My appeal to all political parties is to please try to find a solution,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function. He said the matter could be examined by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, arguing it was “almost a permanent JPC” older than the Constitution and headed by a senior Opposition leader.
On Thursday, the Congress core group (comprising the PM, Mrs Gandhi, Mr Mukherjee, fellow ministers A.K. Antony and P. Chidambaram and Mr Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Mrs Gandhi) had discussed the demand and taken stock of the situation.
The government was due to convey its decision to the Opposition after that meeting, but did not. Congress managers are now tight-lipped on the subject.
The core group is expected to meet again on Sunday to devise its strategy ahead of next week’s session. This will be the second meeting in a week on the issue, party sources said Friday.
The government rejected speculation about the Parliament session being cut short, saying it was not afraid to face the two Houses. If Congress insiders are to be believed, government managers are considering the option of a judicial probe, possibly by a retired judge, but some MPs rule this out on the grounds that the matter is already sub judice.
One section of the ruling UPA and some Congress MPs feel there is nothing wrong in conceding the Opposition demand for a JPC. The Opposition parties, meanwhile, stepped up their offensive on Friday, accused the Prime Minister of letting himself get arm twisted by the DMK in the matter of 2G spectrum allocation, and reiterated they would not relent on their demand for a JPC.

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