India makes new attempt to try end political deadlock

Tuesday December 28, 2010
By Sam Devraj  ( Assistant Editor )
The Indian parliament

The Indian parliament

THE SPEAKER of India’s parliament will meet all political parties on Thursday (December 30) to try to resolve an impasse that threatens to deadlock the February budget session of parliament, a senior opposition leader said.

But no breakthrough was expected as the Congress-led government continues to reject demands by the opposition for a joint parliamentary committee investigation into the sale of telecoms licences that could have lost the state $39bn (£) in revenues.

“There is a lunch meeting called by the speaker. It is related to how to overcome the current problem,” said SS Ahluwalia of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The government says parliament’s Public Accounts Committee is already looking into the matter. It will examine government accounts and reports of the state auditor to see if expenditure has conformed to what has been approved by parliament, but has narrower powers than a joint parliamentary committee and cannot question ministers on its own.

But Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has offered to appear before and answer questions from the PAC, which is headed by the independent-minded BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi.

BJP protests shut down the December session of parliament and the government could not pass key reform bills, including those to ease land acquisition for industries and mines.

A repeat of the deadlock would make it difficult for the Congress party to get approval for the federal budget for 2011/12 and further delay reforms. But there is no threat to the government as it has a narrow majority in parliament.

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