PM, Pranab choreographed events in Rajya Sabha on Lokpal: BJP
Bringing the prime minister in the line of fire, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday accused him and his ministers for the "choreographed disturbance" in the Rajya Sabha on the Lokpal issue and insisted that since the government wanted a weak ombudsman and lacked numbers, it ran away from a vote.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley told reporters the BJP and other opposition parties -- which added up to more than the strength of the Treasury benches -- had the clear aim of passing amendments on some "non-negotiable" issues and make a "strong" law. He charged that the government prevented the nation from getting a strong Lokpal.
"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," Jaitley said.
Alleging that the government is "very capable" of manipulation, managing and fixing, the main opposition said the disturbance caused in the Upper House had the blessings of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
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'This is the beginning of the end of the UPA government'
Jaitley maintained that "the worst kept secret since 6 pm" on Thursday was that the government is going to create a disturbance with the help of a friendly party to avoid the embarrassment of facing a defeat on the Lokpal Bill.
"Subversion of Rajya Sabha by the government by denying it the opportunity to make an effective legislation is a significant moral scar on this government. The prime minister must now live with one more moral stigma. He won the 2008 vote of confidence through bribery," Jaitley said.
Jaitley's counterpart in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj insisted this government has no right to continue in office and should seek a fresh mandate. The BJP would launch a nation-wide campaign on "dumping" of the Lokpal by the UPA, she said.
"The UPA appears to be disintegrating. One of its allies had openly declared its intention to vote against it on a key issue. Another ally, the National Conference, had expressed reservations about the government's resort to Article 253 for making this legislation. This is the beginning of the end of the UPA government," Jaitley said.
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'64 yrs ago it was freedom at midnight, this was fleedom at midnight'
BJP, Trinamool Congress, Left parties and some regional parties wanted that the Lokayukta provision should not be made mandatory and passed under Article 252.
Other sticking points were: liberating the appointment and removal process of the Lokpal from the Central government and by making the investigative process simpler and Central Bureau of Investigation more autonomous. BJP said these were "non-negotiable".
The opposition alleged that all along the government wanted to delay this legislation. Enumerating reasons, Jaitley said discussion on the bill did not start on December 28 as government wanted more time to convince its allies, "requisitioned" a friendly party (RJD) to organise disturbance, filibustered (engaged in endless debate) and then did not try to extend the discussion beyond midnight.
"At the stroke of the midnight hour when the world slept, India awoke to a great fraud being played on its parliamentary democracy. 64 years ago it was freedom at midnight, this was fleedom at midnight," Jaitley said.
"It merely wants a spurious and a phony mechanism which can be manipulated by the government. The battle for creation of a strong and effective Lokpal shall go on," he added.
Asked why the opposition had moved 187 amendments when BJP wanted the Bill to be passed; the party said almost all of the amendments were on the three issues it was raising.