India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looked to put his government’s recent corruption troubles behind him and make up for lost time as a new parliamentary session opened Monday.
Opposition parties wrecked the last session of 2010 by holding protests every day demanding a probe into the fraud-tainted sale of telecom licences in 2008 that could have cost the country up to $40 billion.
In a bid to end the deadlock, the government has reportedly agreed to hold a cross-party investigation, expected to be formally announced Tuesday, amid fierce pressure on Singh.
“It is our sincere hope that this session will be peaceful and productive,” Singh told reporters as he entered parliament, adding that the budget had to be debated and passed during the session.
According to the PRS Legislative Research think-tank, as well as passing a new federal budget on February 28 the government is expected to introduce 32 new bills during the session, which ends on April 21.
Singh and fellow senior figures in his Congress party will also look to wrestle back some of the momentum from the opposition and put an end to months of bad publicity for the left-leaning administration.
Former telecoms minister A. Raja, who stepped down last November, has been arrested as police probe the telecom licence sales in which he is suspected of rigging the rules in favour of certain companies.