'You first lead them up the garden path'
Arun Jaitley, leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, on Wednesday termed the statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about Anna Hazare's detention "disappointing". The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said that the Opposition "rejects" the explanation given by Dr Singh on the events leading to the arrest of Hazare and his aides.
Zeroing in on the PM's speech on Independence Day -- when Dr Singh had said that he didn't have a magic wand to eradicate corruption -- Jaitley said, "You need political will to fight corruption, you don't need a magic wand".
He compared the events surrounding Hazare's detention on Tuesday to the Emergency imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1975.
Jaitley pointed out that the United Progressive Alliance government had initially invited members of civil society to be part of the drafting committee of the Lokpal Bill.
"You first lead them up the garden path and then desert them," Jaitley said.
Reportage: Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Image: Arun Jaitley
'This is a political problem, deal with it politically'
"The highlight of August 15 was not the prime minister's speech but Anna Hazare's visit to Rajghat. Thousands of people convened at Rajghat to express their solidarity with him," he said.
Jaitley appealed to the ruling alliance not to prevent peaceful and non-violent protests and to listen to those with differing views.
"This is a political problem, so deal with it politically. You should listen to those who do not agree with you. Include the points that you can and ignore the rest. I know Anna Hazare's credentials and he would ask his supporters to adhere by non-violence," Jaitley remarked.
The PM's statement "does not only disappoint us but does not add to information," he said.
"The PM, in his statement, has posed a question about who drafts laws and who makes the laws of this country. I don't think there is a serious debate inside or outside the House on this. I am left wondering as to who really runs this country," he said.
Image: Anna Hazare at Rajghat
'It is time for the PM to stand up'
"You have a serious political issue which is being debated for the last few months and climaxes in the last few days. We find that the political leadership of this country is hiding behind men in uniform and telling us that the entire crisis is being handled by policemen," Jaitley charged.
"I think it is time for the PM to stand up and take more decisions. He must go to the root of this issue as to why there's a certain loss of confidence in his government," he added.
Urging the PM to perceive the support for Hazare as a "wake up call," Jaitley advised him against invoking the CrPC to solve a political problem.
"Do you recollect from the British regime when these kinds of restrictions were imposed on freedom fighters and Gandhiji; you cannot impose such unnecessary conditions," Jaitley said while denouncing the 22 restrictions imposed by the Delhi police on Hazare's protest fast.
The BJP leader was critical of conditions like limiting the number of people attending the protest, its duration and the number of vehicles at the protest site.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the Independence Day speech at Red Fort
'This is not the way to fight corruption'
"Is the Congress willing to give a guarantee that they will not hold a protest with more than 5,000 people in the future," Jaitley asked.
He said the advisors of the government failed to realise the magnitude of the issue and the overwhelming support for Hazare and hence the prime minister now has to "hide behind the Delhi police commissioner" for the decisions related to Hazare's arrest.
Accusing the government of "unleashing a new political idiom" against those fighting corruption, Jaitley said "political spokesmen are being used literally as hit-men."
"Is this the level to which you have brought the level of the political discourse? Smugness, which has become a character of this government, arrogance, which has become a character of this government -- this is not the way to fight corruption," he said.
Image: A rally in support of Anna Hazare in Delhi
'Your advisors let you down'
Jaitley said the government's advisors and agencies had let it down. "Your advisors let you down; your agencies let you down. You are now in a trap," he said.
The prime minister, Jaitley said, was trying to craft a thesis that Hazare's protest was some sort of a confrontation between Parliament and the civil society, but the Opposition Rejected this stance.
"The text of your statement is that there is a confrontation between Parliament and civil society. We are refusing to bite this bit. This is not a confrontation between civil society and Parliament of India. We refuse to accept this agenda," he said.
"It is time for the prime minister and the political leadership of India to really stand up and take a bold decision. He must go to the root of the issue as to why such a loss of faith and confidence has taken place in his government," he said.
Image: A rally against corruption