JPC at last ?
The Government has finally agreed to the Opposition demand for forming a Joint Parliamentary Committee, or JPC, to probe the 2G spectrum scandal. Government leaders here said a 21-member JPC will be constituted to probe the issue and a formal announcement is expected to be made two days before the budget session, which begins next week. The Congress core committee was of the view that the Opposition should not be allowed to take its protests into the budget session. The one-month long winter session was a complete washout as the Opposition was unwilling to agree for anything less than a JPC. There is acknowledgement in Congress that there should be some backchannel communication with political rivals to reduce tension between the treasury and the Opposition. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who kept himself away from the negotiations during the winter session, is expected to engage senior Opposition leaders in discussions on smooth functioning of Parliament. Singh, who will hold a session with journalists of visual media on Wednesday, is expected to outline the government’s plans to deal with the recent scandals. The Union Cabinet will discuss the JPC issue, when it meets on Tuesday to consider the President's address to Parliament on the opening day of budget session on February 21. The Presidential address to the joint sitting of Parliament comes out with Government’s policies for the year and views on various topical issues. The Cabinet meeting will work out modalities of the JPC issue that has been the cause for a standoff between the government and the opposition. Congress is keen that a JPC probe should cover the BJP-led NDA's stint in power and is claiming that the main opposition will have a lot to answer. The CBI summons to Arun Shourie, former telecom minister in the NDA rule, is being cited by the ruling party.