Face JPC or quit, BJP tells PM

NEW DELHI: At a mass rally where the prime minister was asked to quit if he could not face a joint parliamentary probe into the spectrum scam, BJP leader L.K. Advani Wednesday said he was making one "final appeal" to Manmohan Singh to accept the demand.

Addressing thousands of opposition activists at the Ramlila ground here, leaders of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came down heavily on the beleaguered Congress-led coalition government and Manmohan Singh in particular.

In a scathing attack on the Congress, Jaitley asked the prime minister to give up his job if he was not ready to face a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the raging spectrum scandal.

The leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha argued that only a JPC would be able to find out why second generation spectrum was allotted at below the market prices in 2008 by the now disgraced DMK leader and former communications minister A. Raja.

The prime minister has said he had nothing to hide and was ready to face a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to answer questions but was against the formation of a JPC. Both PAC and JPC are made up of parliament members from all parties but have varying mandates.

Jaitley said this was unacceptable to the opposition. "You must quit if you can’t face a JPC," he thundered.

Former deputy prime minister Advani was at his combative best, saying Wednesday’s rally marked the launch of a nation-wide campaign against the prime minister. But he refrained from echoing Jaitley’s demand.

Instead, he appealed to Manmohan Singh to give up his ‘no-JPC’ stance and face a JPC.

"I am making my final appeal. You have the right to accept our demand. No one can stop you," he said, suggesting that Congress president Sonia Gandhi was the reason Manmohan Singh was against a JPC.

"Please accept the demand and say what you want to say (at the JPC)."

If the prime minister did not agree, 2010 would be remembered as the "year of corruption" and of "stinking scams", Advani said.

Another BJP leader, Sushma Swaraj, was equally critical of the Congress and its government.

"Why are they afraid of JPC?" she asked at the rally, where leaders of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Akali Dal and Shiv Sena among others were also present.

She said four JPCs had been formed until now to probe various scandals, including two during previous Congress regimes.

"The (Niira) Radia tapes have exposed the stink in the executive, the legislature, the judiciary and the fourth estate, the four pillars of a democracy," she said.

"Neither the Supreme Court nor the PAC can answer the questions we are raising," she said. "If they have nothing to hide, why are they afraid of a JPC?"

Business lobbyist Radia has been taped talking to industrialists, politicians and others suggesting that A. Raja be made the communications minister in the Manmohan Singh government in 2004.

DMK leader Raja quit the cabinet last month in the wake of the scandal, which washed out parliament’s entire winter session.(IANS)

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