Tuesday, February 22, 2011

JPC Probe,JPC announced

New Delhi: Congress is facing pressure from partners as well as opponents to expand the size of the joint parliamentary committee on the spectrum scam whose formation was formally announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday.
Congress is keen on capping the size of the parliamentary committee at 21, but is having to deal with strong advocacy to increase the size from parties like NCP and Left who may not get to sit in a smaller group. Party sources acknowledged the possibility of a re-think on the issue after finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s talks with leaders of political parties on Wednesday. Congress is also likely to insist on an early conclusion of the inquiry. It is likely to argue for the JPC to submit its report by the end of the monsoon session, but seems reconciled to the possibility of the term of the committee getting extended by a session.
The announcement of the JPC — first indicated by TOI on February 9 — sparked a controversy, with both BJP and Left taking exception to PM’s statement that the government was arm-twisted into conceding the demand for a parliamentary probe into the spectrum scam. The row gave an early peep into the faultlines that may be on display when the committee gets down to work.
Congress’s likely choice to head the panel, P C Chacko, and its bid for early conclusion of the report are seen as indicating government’s resolve not to yield during the parliamentary probe.
In his statement, the PM stuck to the government’s stand that a JPC was not necessary since CBI and PAC were already investigating the undervaluation of spectrum, and government was implementing the recommendations of the Justice Shivraj Patil committee.
Regretting the disruption of proceedings through the winter session, Singh said, “Our government believed that as all effective steps were being taken, we might have been able to persuade the Opposition not to insist on a JPC. We could not succeed in spite of our sincere efforts. We can ill-afford a situation where Parliament is not allowed to function during the crucial Budget session. It is in these special circumstances that our government agrees to the setting up of a joint parliamentary committee”.

Scrapping licences for delay in rollout unwise, govt tells SC

Dhananjay Mahapatra | tnn
New Delhi: The 2G spectrum allocation irregularities during A Raja’s tenure as telecom minister continued to get bigger as the Centre admitted that 103 of the 122 mobile telephone licencees failed to roll out services, but said it would be unwise to cancel the agreements. It said demand for cancellation of all allocations in 2008 at 2001 prices and their fresh auction could jeopardise foreign direct investments already made in the sector and suggested that levying penalty on them was the right course of action. “Demand notices levying liquidated damages for failure to comply with the roll out obligation have also been issued up to February 9, 2011, in respect of 103 licences out of the 122 issued in 2008,” the department of telecom said in an affidavit before the Supreme Court. Petitioners Centre for Public Interest Litigation and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy had said the licencees were obliged to start mobile telephone services within a year of allocation of spectrum and cover 90% of the area in a metro and 10% of non-metro area. Both had sought cancellation of all licences and their fresh auction.

Dwivedi’s speech frowns on PM: Jaitley

New Delhi: For MPs to begin their speeches by quoting the remarks of opponents has been a standard rhetorical device, but few would do so approvingly.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley raised eyebrows when he began his speech on the motion of thanks to President’s address by praising the remarks that Congress’s lead speaker Janardan Dwivedi had made, claiming that they were meant to be a blunt message for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Dwivedi referred to ‘Why Am I In Politics?’, an article Mahatma Gandhi wrote in the May 1920 issue of ‘Young India’. In the write-up, Gandhi said even while he was in politics, he had not allowed political considerations to shape any big decision of his.
Gandhi also said that despite being a politician, he had fought the vice-like grip of politics. “The need is to fight politics, rather than get submerged in it,” Dwivedi quoted from Gandhi’s article, adding that the 1920 article appeared to have been written with the contemporary scenario in mind. Dwivedi, head of Congress’s media department, said the PM would fully appreciate the subtle message implicit in the article in Young India, a journal edited by Gandhi.
Jaitley interpreted this as a “blunt message” to the PM. The Leader of Opposition, who in his speech focused on what he called the growing dissonance between the PM and Congress, added, “I don't think Shri Janardan Dwivedi had kept any secret out of the message that he was trying to convey, and the person to whom he was trying to convey this to.”
He continued, “I initially thought he was being subtle. I am now convinced that he was being very blunt and the message that he gave was to the leader of his own party. That is where we stand today.”
BJP sources said Jaitley’s take on Dwivedi’s speech was that it marked a disapproval of PM’s recent statement where he had explained the government’s failure to nip the spectrum scam by saying that compromises have to be made to run coalitions. “You have to put up with a lot if you are running a coalition,” the PM had said. Dwivedi’s colleagues said it was not a swipe at the PM.

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