Pranab statement on Aircel-Maxis deferred in RS

New Delhi: The much-anticipated statement of the Finance Minister on the controversial Aircel-Maxis deal in Rajya Sabha was today deferred to the next session even as the Opposition cried foul saying "its worse fears have come true".

BJP member Venkaiah Naidu drew attention to the matter listed in the Business for the last day of the session soon after the Question Hour saying the House had been assured that the Finance Minister would make a statement and that it should be given priority.

"There is a clear ploy, a systematic plan to avoid the issue," Naidu said. To this, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla responded saying, "The minister is attending to some other business in the Lok Sabha. He will make the statement before the House adjourns."

This did not satisfy the Opposition members who created uproar and sought the Chair`s intervention in support of its demand for a statement by the Finance Minister on the issue. P J Kurien, who was in the Chair, said, "Government has given an assurance. What else you want…I cannot fix the time…you cannot ask the Minister to come at a particular time…he is also a human being."

When the House met after lunch, it was adjourned abruptly when DMK members created a ruckus over a bill seeking repeal of Tamil Nadu Legislative Council. Later when the House reassembled at 4:30 pm, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said, "We had expressed an apprehension that something would happen and then this item would not be taken up, and our worse fears have come true."

Jaitely said if Pranab Mukherjee cannot make a statement in the House today, the government should take up the matter in the Monsoon session. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal then said since the minister had some urgent business in Lok Sabha, he could not be available for making the statement in the Upper House and sought permission of the House to defer it to the next session, which was accepted.

"The Finance Minister had been ready with the statement all the time…he was ready to come here but we had fixed 4:30 pm as the time for adjourning the House sine die. We can agree to it that it could be taken up later," Bansal said. The Aircel-Maxis row had led to an uproar in Rajya Sabha on May 13 with the Opposition targeting with fresh allegations the son of Home Minister P Chidambaram on the issue. Chidambaram denied any wrongdoing and said the company in question `Advantage Consulting` could be probed by Finance Ministry.