2G spectrum scam: War of words in Parliament

New Delhi, February 24 (Agencies):  A Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the 2G spectrum allocation issue was set up today amid charges and countercharges between the Government and the Opposition. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee moved the motion for appointment of the 30-member Committee to look into the telecom policy pursued from 1998 to 2009 including the allocation and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum.
The Committee will also examine “irregularities and aberrations, if any” and the consequences thereof in the implementation of government decisions and policy prescriptions. The Committee, which will give its report by the end of the Monsoon session of Parliament, will make recommendations to ensure formulation of appropriate procedures for implementation of laid down policy in the allocation and pricing of telecom licences. Constitution of the JPC, with 20 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha, formally ends the deadlock over the issue which had washed out the entire Winter session of Parliament.
The debate on the setting up of the JPC led to a clash between the government and the opposition with the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj making a frontal attack on the Congress-led coalition for conceding the demand after a long time. Moving the motion, Mukherjee said that lessons needed to be drawn by all concerned from the deadlock, suggesting that it was dangerous for democracy that Parliament cannot function till you concede to a particular demand. “Parliament cannot be mortgaged to the conceding of a demand,” he said warning if “hatred and disrespect for parliamentary institutions was generated, it would lead to the rise of extra-constitutional authorities” as had happened in a neighbouring country way back in 1958 when Martial Law was imposed.
Mukherjee admitted his responsibility as Leader of the House for failing to carry the Opposition with him on the issue. He, however, said the NDA refused a JPC on Tehelka expose and the then Minister Arun Jaitley had said that a group of MPs sitting in a JPC cannot substitute discussion and debate on the floor of the House. While Swaraj was critical of Mukherjee for dubbing opposition as “Maoists”, the Leader of the House said the Left radicals dub Parliament as an “abode of pigs” and therefore wanted all concerned to act responsibly. “Was our demand (for JPC) violent or unconstitutional,” Swaraj sought to know from Mukherjee, referring to him at the same time as a very nice person who fails to distinguish between proper and improper when he gets angry.