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BJP choreographed fiasco on Lokpal Bill in RS: Govt

PTI | Last Modified - Dec 30, 2011, 04:35 PM IST

The govt did not want the Lokpal Bill to become a "laughing stock", said PK Bansal.
  • BJP choreographed fiasco on Lokpal Bill in RS: Govt
    BJP choreographed fiasco on Lokpal Bill in RS: Govt

    pawan_kumar_bansalNew Delhi: Government today projected the BJP as the villain in Rajya Sabha's failure to pass the Lokpal Bill yesterday and accused it of choreographing the fiasco but refrained from blaming key UPA constituent Trinamool Congress which had moved several amendments.

    Under attack over the way Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die abruptly amid high drama, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal put up a brave face claiming that the government did not want the Lokpal Bill to become a "laughing stock".

    Asserting that Government will bring back the measure to establish an anti-corruption watchdog in the Budget session, the minister said that the bill could not be passed yesterday due to as many as 187 amendments proposed by various parties.

    He claimed that the BJP made "two mistakes", the first being voting against the Constitutional amendment in the Lok Sabha to grant constitutional status to Lokpal and the second was to give a large number of amendments to the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

    This was because the BJP was a party to the 'sense of the House'resolution and in fact the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had been its author.

    "Opposition is not willing to play ball. They would much like the country to fail than government succeed. Their strategy is support Anna and defeat Lokpal Bill," Bansal said.

    Downplaying the Trinamool Congress' opposition to appointment of Lokayuktas in the states and its demand to delete the relevant clauses from the Lokpal Bill, he said a government amendment in the bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha on the issue. Besides, he said the government needed time to talk to the ally.

    Congress leader Digvijay Singh defended the move of sine die adjournment of Rajya Sabha saying extension of the House last night was not possible.

    Singh tweeted this morning saying "187 Amendments given till 6 pm on the day of debate and those too contradictory to each other. Extension of the House not within powers of RS (Rajya Sabha)."

    He also said, now that government has time, it must "try and bring about consensus and pass a strong implementable Lokpal Bill."

    Narayanasamy said after going through the amendments, the government will take a call on what to accept and what to reject and get back to the Opposition parties.

    Referring to the amendments moved by key UPA partner Trinamool Congress on the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Narayanasamy said its reservations are regarding the appointment of Lokayuktas in the states and "they have no grievances against Lokpal."

    But at the same time the minister said Trinamool was part of the Cabinet decision to clear the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill introduced in Lok Sabha a few days ago.

    "They voted with us in the Lok Sabha though they had some reservations about the Constitutional amendment...we are talking to them...there is still some time and we will bring them around," he said.

    Speaking separately, Law Minister Salman Khurshid accused BJP of not speaking about its problems on Lokpal Bill before the debate on it in Rajya Sabha and sought to know from the party why it did not ask for the legislation to be put to vote with limited discussion.

    At the end of the session press conference, Bansal was asked about Opposition's charge that government was running away from Parliament as it was in a minority.

    He said it was known that government was not having a majority in the Upper House which has a strength of 243.

    Congress has only 71 members.

    He, however, said the government wanted to pass the legislation through a consensus.

    Without referring to Trinamool Congress, Bansal said that the allies were also involved in the consultations and they were also part of the all-party meetings on Lokpal convened by the government.

    Pouring scorn on the BJP, he said that the party was "guilty" of stalling the Bill as it did not want to get it passed and was interested in playing politics.

    He said initially the government was not in favour of bringing a law on Lokayuktas. "But when Anna Hazare demanded a law on Lokayuktas, these parties shared his stage and asked to us accept every comma and full stop of the Jan Lokpal Bill...now they are opposing establishment of Lokayuktas in the states," he said.

    The minister denied any talk of convening a joint session of Parliament to get the measure passed.

    The minister said the effect of the enormous number of amendments (187 in number) was "confusing" and it was difficult for a Government to accept them and to get the Bill passed because it would lead to legal problems.

    "It is not that the Bill is dead. The amendments will be taken up in the Budget session for consideration," Bansal said.

    He also dismissed suggestions that the Lokpal Bill will meet the fate of the Women's Reservation Bill which has been approved by the Rajya Sabha but pending nod of the Lok Sabha for quite some time.

    Bansal frowned upon questions doubting the impartiality of Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari. "I feel sorry for such questions. I rebut. He is a person of eminence...," he said.

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