Indian parties fail to end parliament deadlock | Pakistan Today

Indian parties fail to end parliament deadlock

NEW DELHI: India’s government and opposition parties failed on Monday to break a deadlock in parliament over an investigation into a widening corruption scandal that has prevented economic reforms being approved.
The opposition has halted parliament sessions since early November over demands for a joint parliamentary investigation into the sale of telecoms licences and spectrum in the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market.
The Congress party-led coalition government has refused the request, saying there is no need for one as a separate investigation is underway.
“The entire opposition was united on the demand for a joint parliamentary committee,” Sushma Swaraj, leader of the main opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, told reporters, referring to the demand for an investigation.
“We told the government if you (allow that) we will immediately end the deadlock,” she said. The coalition government is not at risk of collapsing but the scandal has weakened the government’s ability to move key economic reforms through parliament.
Swaraj said the government was offering an investigation by a less powerful parliamentary body. The government was represented at an all-party meeting by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Separately, an opposition communist party leader said Mukherjee had given an assurance he would discuss the opposition demand for a wider parliamentary investigation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The political storm threatens to cut short parliament’s winter session. The government had planned to pass a banking laws amendment bill, which would improve the capital raising capacity of banks and strengthen central bank regulatory powers.
A bill to give a slice of the profits from mining to displaced people is also at stake.
Former Telecoms Minister Andimuthu Raja, who was forced to resign a week ago, is accused of selling licences and spectrums to companies too cheaply in 2007-2008, possibly costing $39 billion in revenue, according to an official watchdog audit.
Indian firm Swan Telecom, which has since been bought by the UAE’s Ethisalat , and several other companies, which are now part of Telenor , were among those singled out in the government audit regarding discrepancies.
There have also been questions as to whether individuals received kickbacks for selling licences cheaply. In a rare move, the Supreme Court last week reprimanded Singh for taking 16 months to look into the allegations against Raja, a member of a party allied to Congress.
The court demanded Singh explain what had happened, tarnishing his squeaky-clean image. Documents filed to the Supreme Court on Saturday defended the prime minister, saying he followed procedures in looking into the issue.
Singh decided not to approve a request to prosecute Raja.
A representative of Singh will answer questions in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, part of a request from the court for disclosure on how the prime minister handled the issue.

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