The UPA Government may be hoping that the explosive chit-fund scandal of West Bengal will help shift the focus from the 2G draft report coming up before the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Thursday. But, they could be disappointed.
If the BJP leader and JPC member Yashwant Sinha’s provocative third letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is anything to go, there’s going to be major fireworks at the JPC meeting called to adopt P C Chacko’s draft report on the controversial spectrum allocation.
Virtually taking the cudgels up on behalf of the former telecom minister A Raja, Sinha is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that Chacko’s draft report is voted out at the JPC. The BJP is upset that AB Vajpayee government has been dragged into the report.
The Congress-led UPA is treading on thin ice in the 30-member JPC. The BJP-led opposition claims it has 15 members on their side, provided the AIADMK and the DMK vote on the same lines and so does the Left and the TMC. But it also needs to be seen what JD(U) does.
Not denying that it’s a tight rope walk for Chacko , who in his report has given a clean-chit to the PM and his Finance Minister P Chidambaram, a top Congress leader said, “Well, it’s a touch and go situation for us-let’s see what SP does.’’
The lone SP MP, Shailendra Kumar, told Express that “Netaji, (Mulayam Singh Yadav) is still in talks’’ with the Congress managers. “We are likely to ask for more time to go through the report that Chacko has prepared. It’s a lengthy report, needs a close reading,’’ he said, indicating that there could be a trade-off-by which Raja can be called to the JPC, but voting can be avoided.
“We want Raja to come, but what’s the need for a voting,’’ Kumar says as much.
Meanwhile, Sinha after shooting off another letter to the Prime Minister asking him to appear before the panel to clear his name, has been in touch with all the non-Congress parties - the DMK, BJD, Left-to make sure that Chacko’s draft is rejected.
In fact, Sinha’s has indicated to the PM about the storm that is brewing. “The JPC is facing the risk of complete stalemate, if not total destruction. We shall deal with the issue in the meeting of the JPC on April 25,’’ he threateningly wrote in his letter to the PM.
Meanwhile, Chacko is still hoping that he can avert an ugly situation where his report is rejected and an alternative report gets adopted or pushed forward. Sensing the trouble, he also went on to say that opposition members must accept that there is no precedence of voting in a JPC. At the same time, he had to admit that the rules do provide for a vote, if the members demand.
The Congress managers, sources said, have dusted out a forgotten rule that allows the JPC chairman to give a casting vote, in the event of a tie.