Opposition parties and their leaders spoke at cross-purposes on Wednesday regarding strategy inside Parliament on the issue of bank frauds and whether to demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe when the Budget session resumes on March 5.
The Trinamool Congress said a JPC probe would serve no purpose. It did not suggest an alternative course. Its leader, Derek O’Brien, said previous JPCs to probe financial frauds or scams did not yield results.
The Left parties demanded a JPC probe, on the lines of those into the Harshad Mehta case of 1992 and the Ketan Parekh one of 2001. Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) politbureau stated the then finance ministers had deposed before both committees and then put in place corrective measures.
Congress leaders have said their party was amenable to demanding a JPC probe but would try to build a consensus with other parties on the issue. Former Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav wanted a Special Investigation Team probe under a Supreme Court judge.
Leaders of several of opposition parties are also being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate for alleged corruption and amassing of assets disproportionate to incomes. Opposition parties will discuss what to do at strategy meetings once the Budget session resumes. However, the Bahujan Samaj Party and Janata Dal (Secular) had not attended the strategy meeting that United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chief Sonia Gandhi had called at the start of the Budget session. Opposition sources were uncertain of what the Samajwadi Party might decide.
In its statement, the CPI (M) demanded the Prime Minister furnish information on the industrialists whose non-performing assets (NPAs), totalling Rs 2 trillion, have been waived off. It also asked the PM for a list of industrialists who accompanied him on foreign trips at the expense of the exchequer. “Concealing of these names shows the levels to which crony capitalism benefiting chosen individuals close to the ruling party is being practised,” it said.
D Raja said the opposition should adopt a two-pronged approach. It should demand a JPC probe into the larger issue of fixing the banking sector but also raise questions in Parliament on how Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, and other tycoons were allowed to escape abroad.
Trinamool’s O’Brien said none of the JPCs constituted since the 1987 Bofors case have yielded any results.
Some of the Trinamool Congress members are being investigated by the CBI. The Trinamool said its focus will be on how the common man has suffered because of financial frauds.
Last week, Congress party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had said the party was amenable to demanding a JPC probe, but would be consulting other parties on the issue. The Congress party, and its chief Rahul Gandhi, has been at the forefront of demanding answers from the PM and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on the bank fraud.