PNB scam: Left parties, TMC divided over Joint Parliamentary Committee investigation

New Delhi: The Opposition Left parties and Mamata Banerjee's TMC were sharply divided on Wednesday over the constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to go into the PNB scam involving billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi, a proposal broached by the Congress.

The two major Left Parties—the CPM and CPI—pitched for the JPC, while their West Bengal rival Trinamool Congress strongly opposed constitution of such a panel, saying it would delay the process of unravelling the truth.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

"This case needs to be probed thoroughly. In the previous instances of financial frauds of Harshad Mehta or Ketan Parekh, JPCs were constituted and the then finance ministers had deposed before them and put in place corrective measures. In the instant case also a JPC should be constituted and the current finance minister must be made to answer all the relevant questions", CPM said in a statement.

Claiming that the government waived non-performing assets of industrialists totalling Rs 2 lakh crore, the party also demanded that the prime minister disclose their names. It also demanded that the prime minister provide a list of industrialists who accompanied him on foreign trips at the expense of the state exchequer.

"Concealing of these names shows the levels to which crony capitalism benefiting chosen individuals close to the ruling party is being practised", it alleged. The CPI demanded a two-pronged approach for dealing with the issue, including a JPC.

"We feel on one hand the legal process should continue and the government should leave no stones unturned to bring such scamsters (Nirav Modi and others like Vijay Mallya) back to India...their properties attached, on the other a JPC should be constituted so that many other questions can be answered," senior CPI leader D Raja said.

The TMC, however, did not favour a JPC to probe the Punjab National Bank scam, saying there were instances in the past when such panels were constituted but there was no outcome.

"We do not want JPC. It can not be the solution. We believe that the truth should come out fast. We have seen in the 1987 in case of Bofors, the report given by the JPC was rejected by the Opposition. Whether (it is) the Harshad Mehta case or the Ketan Parekh case, action is still pending," TMC leader Derek O'Brien told reporters.

O'Brien, however, did not specify how his party wanted the matter to be investigated. The TMC has often accused the government of misusing the CBI to harass the BJP's political rivals. "In all such corruption cases, it is the common man who is at the receiving end. They are denied loans. We will raise the issue in Parliament and also take to the streets against such financial scams," he said.

The Congress party had floated the idea of a JPC probe into the PNB scam. It had said it would discuss the issue with other parties in Parliament.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi had questioned the prime minister's silence and asked him to explain why such a swindle happened and what steps were being taken to ensure the banking system was safe in India.

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Updated Date: Feb 21, 2018 18:10:45 IST

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