Trinamool MP dies in Kolkata, ripples in Delhi

New Delhi/Kolkata, April 25 (IANS) Trinamool Congress MP Ambica Banerjee died Thursday in a Kolkata hospital, leading to the Lok Sabha being adjourned for the day and the crucial joint parliamentary committee (JPC) meeting to finalise the report on 2G spectrum being postponed.

Banerjee, 84, had been hospitalised a few days back, said party sources. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

The MP from Howrah, a mechanical engineer by profession, had been member of the West Bengal assembly for five consecutive terms from 1982, first from the Congress and then from the Trinamool Congress.

An avid follower of outdoor games, he had served as vice president of the Cricket Association of Bengal and a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, London.

His death led to political ripples in Delhi and gave the Congress-led government, under attack from the opposition, some breathing space.

While the Lok Sabha was adjourned after condoling his death, the politically significant meeting of the JPC into 2G spectrum allocation was postponed.

The 30-member JPC, which is divided over the content of the report, was scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Thursday.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Left have come together on one platform to seek rejection of the report. Non-Congress members of the panel went ahead with their appointment with Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to press for panel chief P.C. Chacko’s removal.

The draft JPC report had laid the blame for the losses to the public exchequer on account of faulty allocation of spectrum and grant of licences on former telecom minister A. Raja, clearing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram of any wrongdoing.

The JPC is divided over the culpability of Raja, whose note submitted to the panel has stated that everything he did was with the knowledge of Manmohan Singh. The BJP has also been demanding the resignation of the prime minister.

In 2011, an entire winter session of parliament was washed out as the BJP did not allow either house to run till a JPC probe was set up.

The issue came up after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) alleged a presumptive loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore in the allocation of 2G spectrum licences during the UPA-I government 2004-09.

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