Congress, BJP spar over 2G probe panel

New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) A war of words Tuesday broke out between the Congress and the BJP over the functioning of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) examining the 2G spectrum issue.

The JPC was functioning in a "scandalous" manner, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said a day after he wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to depose before the panel.

While JPC chairman P.C. Chacko termed it a political stunt, the Congress said Sinha should make suggestions to the panel only.

"The way in which JPC proceedings are being conducted by its chairman, it is scandalous, to say the least," Sinha said about Chacko.

Sinha said that the JPC had not met in two months and that time has been "wasted" in inquiring into matters from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

"For over two months, a meeting of the JPC has not been called. Various members, including me, have been demanding a meeting of the JPC," Sinha said.

"The JPC was constituted to look in the 2G scam. It happened in 2008. But the ruling coalition insisted that an inquiry should be done from 1998. We spent a long time looking into issues between 1998 and 2004," he said.

He also said that not allowing former telecom minister Raja to depose before the JPC was a denial of justice.

"Mr. A. Raja has written a letter to the JPC chairman, to the Lok Sabha speaker, demanding that if he appears before the JPC, he could testify. He is being denied an opportunity," Sinha said.

"He has cast serious aspersions on the conduct of the prime minister, on the conduct of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram... This is denial of natural justice to Raja, not to call him to the JPC to answer questions and offer explanations to questions members of JPC may have," he said.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told Times Now news channel: "There is a Joint Parliamentary Committee (on the 2G scam) in progress at this point. Since I was a member of this committee, I do not want to comment on its proceedings. Sinha is a member of the same committee. Whatever they (the BJP) want to articulate, it would be much more appropriate if they do so within the confines of that committee."

Members of the BJP had earlier boycotted the JPC, demanding that the prime minister and the finance minister be called to depose before it but later gave up their demand.

Raja too wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Chacko that he be allowed to depose before the parliamentary panel.

Tewari added that the committee was in the process of writing its report. "It is clearly a question of the cart before the horse," he said.

On the BJP's demand for calling the prime minister to depose before the JPC, Tewari said: "This demand was raised in the committee and was rejected there itself."

--Indo-Asian New Service

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