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Nov 29, 2010, 08.52 AM IST | Source: Reuters

India calls new meeting over parliamentary impasse

The speaker of Parliament has called an all-party meeting on Monday to break a political impasse stalling passage of key legislation, as the government continued to reach out to the opposition for a solution.

India calls new meeting over parliamentary impasse

The speaker of Parliament has called an all-party meeting on Monday to break a political impasse stalling passage of key legislation, as the government continued to reach out to the opposition for a solution.

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 USD 39 billion in revenue and has triggered the resignation of the telecoms minister.

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.

SS Ahluwalia, a senior leader of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said its leaders would not be in town to attend the 4 pm (1030 GMT) meeting proposed by the speaker but were willing to consider a meeting later or on Tuesday.

"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," he said.

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.

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.

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