Lokpal: Govt Fields Top Ministers to Contain Damage
A political war broke out between government and Opposition on Friday over the Rajya Sabha’s failure to pass the Lokpal Bill, with both sides accusing each of carrying out “well choreographed” chaos to scuttle it.
Under attack that it ran away from a vote because of lack of majority in the House, the government launched a media blitzkrieg in which BJP was the main target and painted as “villain” of the midnight drama.
The government underlined that the Bill was “alive” and would be taken up in the Budget Session and get it passed after working with parties.
In all the charges and counter charges, the government sought not to annoy its ally Trinamool Congress, which had ganged up with the Opposition and declared that it would vote against the provisions relating to Lokayuktas.
Mr. Chidambaram went a step further to say that Trinamool’s concerns could be addressed by refining the provisions.
In its barrage, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties accused the government of “subterfuge and sabotage” through its allies and friendly parties, mainly the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Seeking to bring Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in their line of fire for “keeping silent” during the episode, Leaders of Opposition in both the Houses Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj said the government has lost the right to continue in office after the defeat in both the Houses and face fresh elections.
The government fielded four of its senior Ministers — Mr. Chidambaram, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ambika Soni — to launch a scathing attack on the BJP.
“The BJP had no intention to pass the Bill. So they hit upon an ingenous devise to move 187 amendments, many of them contradictory and many of them cannot be reconciled in a few minutes,” Mr. Chidambaram told a joint press conference.
The Congress party also fielded its spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who said the “assassins (BJP) were accusing the victims.”
Rahul Gandhi also accused the BJP of sabotaging the Bill which he said the government was determined to get passed.
Upping its ante, BJP alleged that the disturbances caused in the Rajya Sabha had the “blessings” of the Prime Minister and Mukherjee.
Charging the government with preventing the nation from getting a strong Lokpal, he said it was “very capable” of manipulation, managing and fixing.”
The Leader of Opposition said, “The strategy of BJP and several other opposition parties was to defeat a weak and spurious Lokpal law and insist on amendments which would improve and convert the weak law into a strong law.”
Swaraj said the BJP would launch a nationwide campaign on “dumping” of the Lokpal by the UPA.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury accused the government of “subterfuge and sabotage” in not allowing voting on the Bill, saying “chaos” was created in an “orchestrated” manner to stall the crucial legislation.