The opposition Left parties and Mamata Banerjee’s TMC were sharply divided today over 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 CPI(M) 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. “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”, CPI(M) 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 cannot be the solution. We believe that the truth should come out fast. We have seen in the past..in 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 OBrien told reporters. OBrien, however, did not specify how his party wanted the matter to be investigated.