House logjam: Speaker plans lunch meetings for solution


New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has invited leaders from the opposition and the government for luncheon meetings over the next two days in a bid to break the impasse over the opposition’s demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam that nearly washed out the winter session of parliament.

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Official sources said Wednesday that the “informal meetings” will be held at the speaker’s residence.

They said that while leaders of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are expected to attend the meeting Thursday, the Left and other opposition leaders will meet the speaker Friday.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy are also likely to attend the meetings.

The sources said that BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj have been invited for the meeting.

Mukherjee last week suggested convening a special session of parliament to discuss the issue of JPC but the opposition rejected the proposal.

The opposition has insisted on its demand for a JPC probe into the scandal but the government has maintained that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the 2G spectrum allocation to telecom companies in 2008 at below market price was being looked into by parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

A multi-level probe was also being conducted simultaneously, the government said.

The speaker last week made a fresh appeal to parties to find a solution to the impasse over the opposition demand for a JPC probe.

She earlier held a meeting with leaders from all parties to end the impasse but it yielded no result.

Ahead of the informal meeting called by the speaker, the Congress expressed hope that a solution will be found.

“We welcome the effort. As presiding officer she (Meira Kumar) is trying for a way ahead. Dialogue is the way to find a solution,” Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.

The Nov 9-Dec 13 winter session of parliament was nearly washed out following the stalemate over the opposition’s demand for a JPC probe.

The government made several offers to break the logjam. The opposition has threatened to carry forward its protest to the budget session that begins in the last week of February 2011.