New Delhi: The divide within the JPC on 2G spectrum scam deepened on Tuesday with BJP members walking out of its meeting and threatening to quit, alleging bias by its Chairman PC Chacko who charged the Opposition party with trying to "kill" the panel for political interests.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee, which met after nearly a month, witnessed a virtual repeat of August 22 meeting when BJP members stormed out following a clash with Congress members.

As soon as the meeting started, BJP members wanted resumption of discussion on finalisation of list of witnesses, a matter that had provoked a clash last time.

However, Chacko rejected it, saying the Committee was slated to hear presentation by RBI Governor D Subbarao, who was the Finance Secretary when 2G Spectrum was allotted in 2008, and could not discuss anything else.

Four of the six BJP members present in the meeting, including Yashwant Sinha, were upset at this and walked out.

BJP wanted inclusion of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidamaram in the final list of witnesses.

After staging walkout, BJP accused Chacko of being 'biased' and threatened to quit the panel, saying a decision in this regard will be taken soon.

Sinha said his party has lost faith in the panel and did not expect it to uncover the truth.

Chacko hit back charging BJP with trying to "throttle and kill" the Committee for its political interests. Chacko said the BJP stood "isolated" on the issue as members from other parties participated in the deliberations despite their second walkout on the same matter.

"The committee would continue with its business," he said when asked whether BJP's absence would affect JPC's functioning.

Replying to a volley of questions on whether JPC has decided against calling the Prime Minister and Chidambaram, Chacko said the decision will be taken by a "majority view". "Till recently, we had gone by consensus. But when it eludes us, we will take a decision based on majority. No decision has been taken so far," he said.

On September 15, Sinha had written to Chacko demanding to settle the issue of witnesses before proceeding further.

Chacko wrote back saying the committee has spent two sittings on the issue and he was authorised by members to take a final call on the issue. He circulated Sinha's letter and his response to all the members of the Committee.

Chacko used the letters to defend his decision against allowing discussion on list of witnesses.

"They are playing politics... People who forced the government to set up the JPC are now trying to throttle it, kill it," he said.

But BJP said the manner in which Chacko is functioning makes it clear that the JPC is now "not an instrument for uncovering the truth".

JD(U) supports BJP's decision

Supporting BJP's decision to walkout of the JPC meeting on 2G scam, JD(U) said Congress members cannot deny the opposition party's demand to conduct a debate on the list of witnesses in the case.

Talking to reporters here, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav also said that boycotts and debates are part of Parliamentary process including JPC to ensure result-oriented functioning of these bodies.

"Yashwant Sinha told me that he sought a discussion on the list of witnesses in the 2G case. But they (Congress members) refused to give time for this. How can they refuse the demand for a debate? If you don't conduct debates how do you plan to get any result in the 2G case," Yadav said.

On views that opposition parties were not serious about functioning of JPC and thus stalling its proceedings through walkouts, Yadav said, "Activities like debates and shouting are part of Parliamentary process. Closing down the House it also very much a part of this."

Terming JPC as a "mini-Parliament", he said, "JPC is a tool in our hand. It is a mini-Parliament. I have been in Parliament for last 40 years and both Congress and we have blocked its functioning several times to get results. Our decision may not be correct, but these are our options to put forward our views."

Asked when the JPC will be allowed to function properly, Yadav said, "JPC and Parliament are the place where 120 crore people are being represented and these are the tools to ensure result-oriented proceedings there."

Yadav said opposition parties will ensure that JPC gives a justified result.

"They have not allowed debate and that is the reason we have boycotted the JPC. We did it last time also because of the same reason. We want to put all our force to ensure that JPC comes out with a result," he said.

JPN/Agencies

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