Amid talks of opposition unity, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar is mired in controversy over his statement that a Supreme Court-appointed committee may be more effective than a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the allegations levelled against the Adani Group.
The Congress, however, is still of the opinion that the JPC worked well on several critical issues in the past and hence a JPC should look into these allegations too. It is certainly not happy with Pawar’s stance.
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In an interview to News18, Congress’s Prithviraj Chavan, a former Maharashtra Chief Minister and a former member of JPC, explains how JPC is an “important tool for Parliament” and how the “bonhomie of the NCP and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at a local level has hurt the Congress”.
‘IN JPC, EVERYTHING IS ON RECORD’
“It was the decision of 20 opposition parties, including the NCP to push for the demand for JPC to probe the allegations levelled against the Adani Group. The reason being these allegations are not only against the group, but also against the Indian financial regulatory mechanism,” said Chavan.
Chavan said the only aim of all opposition parties is to clean up the system and JPC is the way to do it.
Pawar had said that the JPC will be constituted on the basis of majority in Parliament. “Although 18-19 opposition parties have come together on the Adani issue, not all of them will get representation on the JPC as some of them have only one or two members in Parliament. If a JPC has 21 members, about 15 of them will be from the ruling party,” Pawar had said.
“It is a fact that any parliamentary committee will have more representation of the ruling party as it is a universal format. See the American Congress or British parliament, everywhere, the ruling party will have more members. But the fact is everything that happens here comes on record. If you see in the past, when the Ketan Parekh scam happened or in the Harshad Mehta case, a JPC was formed and it did really good work. Pawar was also chairman of one of the JPCs which did very well,” Chavan said.
‘JPC CAN EVEN SUMMON A MINISTER’
According to Chavan, JPC is one of the tools in the hands of Indian parliament. “A JPC can summon any person linked to the issue or can ask for documents related to the issue. In the past, we have seen even ministers had to depose in front of the JPC, that is how powerful a JPC is,” said Chavan.
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He added: “So far, PM Modi and his government has not made a single JPC despite the opposition’s demand for it on various issues including demonetisation, Covid, etc. We don’t have great hopes from this government that it will form a JPC in the Adani issue.”
‘DEGREE NOT THE ISSUE, AFFIDAVIT IS’
When united opposition is trying to corner the BJP government and PM Modi on various issues, Pawar and his party have taken different stands on issues such as Veer Savarkar, JPC probe for Adani Group allegations and degree row of PM Modi.
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“I totally agree with Mr Pawar that no one should raise the point of how well-educated our PM or any other leader is. Here, the point is the PM signed on a false affidavit, where he was shown as a degree holder in political science. In the past, he has given many interviews in which he has said that he is not well-educated. That’s why he must clarify what is true. Signing on a false affidavit could invite serious punishment,” said Chavan.
‘NCP-BJP CLOSENESS UNFORTUNATE’
Even as talks are underway to get state-level parties together and form the anti-BJP front on national level, a few reports from Maharashtra suggest that for local Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) committee election, the NCP may join hands with the BJP. This has hurt the NCP’s old alliance partner, the Congress.
“It very unfortunate that at local level, the NCP is joining hands with the BJP. We can see that these parties are coming close locally. But this should not happen nationally. We are hopeful of that as we all want to beat the BJP in the 2024 general elections,” said Chavan.
‘WILL WIN K’TAKA, JDS ONLY WORRY; RAJ CRISIS WILL END SOON’
There are many small parties who don’t want the Congress to lead the grand alliance of opposition, but Chavan said the idea of a united opposition is not conceivable without the Congress.
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For the upcoming elections in Karnataka and Rajasthan, Chavan is confident of winning Karnataka, but worried about the role of JDS. “I was the election in-charge of Karnataka a few years ago, I can say that the Congress is winning the election. But if the BJP sponsors JDS against us, it could become a threat for us.”
Chavan said the Rajasthan Congress issue will also be sorted soon as Rahul Gandhi has intervened in the fight between CM Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot.
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