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Cabinet discusses Prez address

New Delhi: Formation of a JPC to probe the 2G scam did not figure at the meeting of the Union Cabinet on Tuesday with the government giving enough hints beforehand to the opposition that it has now virtually remained a formality.

The Cabinet meeting was devoted to finalising the address of the President to the joint sitting of Parliament on the opening day of the Budget session on February 21, government sources said.

Presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the meeting went into the draft of the President`s address para-by-para and did not take up any other issue, they said.

The President`s address has always been a significant document which generally details the achievements and initiatives of the government in the previous year and lays out a roadmap about programmes and policies in the year ahead.

The government, which has so far resisted setting up of JPC, is now understood to be ready to announce it but not before a discussion is held in Parliament over the issue of corruption.

The issue of JPC was discussed at the Congress Core Group meeting, chaired by party President Sonia Gandhi yesterday and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had a meeting sometime back with the BJP Parliamentary Party Chairman L K Advani to discuss the matter.

A senior minister said there is no mention of JPC in the President`s address and the formation is expected to be announced in Parliament itself after the modalities between the government and the opposition on the terms of reference of such a panel were settled.

The entire Winter Session was a washout with the opposition disrupting the proceedings of Parliament demanding a JPC probe into 2G spectrum allocation.

During an all-party meeting earlier this month, Mukherjee had given a clear hint about government`s intention on the JPC issue by significantly remarking: "No price is high for restoring the functioning of Parliament".

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