NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian government and opposition parties will meet on Tuesday to try again to break a deadlock in parliament that has stalled passage of key legislation, an official said on Sunday.
The opposition has halted parliament sessions since November 9 over its demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into a corruption scandal that a government auditor said could have cost the nation up to $39 billion in revenue and has triggered the resignation of the telecoms minister.
The speaker of the powerful lower house of India’s parliament called for an all-party meeting at 1:30 pm (3 a.m. EST) on Tuesday, an official at the speaker’s office told Reuters. “All the floor leaders will be present at the meeting,” he said.
But any breakthrough in the meeting was unlikely, with the government refusing to bend to opposition pressure for a joint investigation into the alleged telecoms scam.
“We are willing (to have a) discussion and (to pass) all bills listed for the session, but first and foremost the government should constitute a JPC,” said S.S. Ahluwalia, a senior leader of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
The meeting was originally scheduled for 4 pm (1030 GMT) on Monday, but Ahluwalia had said his party’s leaders would be out of town and were willing to consider a meeting later.
Key bills, including one for approval of an extra $9.8 billion in spending to ensure functioning of government machinery, are pending before the parliament. [nSGE6AO06A]
The current session is scheduled to run until Dec 13. But if the logjam continues, there could be an early adjournment.
The government has refused to accept opposition demands, saying a separate investigation is under way.
The ruling Congress party has come up with a few proposals to overcome the impasse, including an investigation monitored by the Supreme Court, but the opposition has rejected them.
On Sunday, senior Congress leader and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee spoke to leaders in the main opposition in another effort to find a compromise, to no avail.
“Our stand is very clear. We have said that there is no question of a JPC. But it is for the government to take a decision,” said a Congress leader who did not want to be named.
Reporting by C.J. Kuncheria and Nigam Prusty; writing by Devidutta Tripathy; editing by Mark Heinrich