BJP blames Congress blocking passage of Lokpal Bill

Last Updated: Saturday, December 14, 2013 - 20:54

New Delhi: In a sharp reaction to Rahul Gandhi`s comments on the Lokpal Bill, BJP on Saturday alleged Congress and its allies are blocking the passage of the legislation and it is ready to support the measure even amid the din and without a discussion.

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley charged Congress has been shifting its stand on Lokpal Bill quite often and the party is not serious about passage of the Bill.

"Government seems to have changed its heart again on the Lokpal Bill.... The Bill should ideally have been passed in Rajya Sabha yesterday itself. We reiterate our stand that it should be discussed and passed on Monday. If Congress and its allies do not allow the House to function, then we are ready to pass it without a debate," Jaitley said.

BJP has underlined that the recommendations of the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha, which studied the Lokpal Bill passed by the Lok Sabha earlier, are adequate and the new draft should be passed by the Upper House without much debate.

"In case there is no order in the House, I am ready to make my speech in the din," Jaitley said. BJP has demanded both Houses should pass the Bill at the earliest.

However, two sticking points still remain and Jaitley insisted that BJP will not agree to these clauses. It wants only the unanimous amendments of the Select Committee to be adopted. Jaitley said the government cannot interfere with the amendments made unanimously by the Select Committee.
"Government cannot have the right to transfer a CBI officer who is still probing a case referred to the agency by the Lokpal. Secondly, it should be upto the Lokpal to decide whether an officer being investigated for corruption or having disproportionate assets should be given a hearing before or after the search and seizure," Jaitley said.
Accusing the government of delaying passage of the Bill, BJP said the Select Committee submitted its report a year ago but the Bill has still not been brought to the House.

Jaitley emphasised that BJP was never in agreement with the Lokpal Bill passed by the Lok Sabha and hence wanted changes to avoid passage of a diluted legislation.

"There was no question of passing in the Rajya Sabha the Lokpal Bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha. When we tried to get the Bill passed with amendments in the Rajya Sabha, the government stalled it. The Select Committee was formed. Though one year has passed since the Committee submitted its amendments, the government has not brought the Bill for some reason," he said.

Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Jaitley had held a press conference earlier this week to demand that government pass the Lokpal Bill as the earliest.

The clamour for passage of this Bill, which has been hanging fire for long, comes against the backdrop of the ongoing indefinite fast of Anna Hazare to press for this legislation.

The recent impressive victory of Aam Admi Party, which was born out of the Lokpal agitation, in the Delhi assembly elections has also woken up other political parties to this demand.

However, disruptions have prevented the Bill from being taken up in the Rajya Sabha. BJP has alleged SP, outside ally of the UPA government, is disrupting a debate on Lokpal Bill at the behest of Congress which does not want its passage.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said BJP does not want to leave the government with any excuses on Lokpal Bill and will pass the draft cleared by the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha.

"Lokpal Bill- BJP is prepared to pass Lokpal Bill as approved by Select Committee without a discussion in the Parliament. We do not want to leave any excuses with the Government," Swaraj said on Twitter.

She sought to know why Congress was trying to pass the blame for the failure to pass the Bill. "Why us? We are prepared to pass the Bill without discussion. Let Rajya Sabha pass Lokpal Bill on Monday. We will pass the Bill in Lok Sabha on Tuesday," she said.

Expressing her party`s commitment to the appointment of a Lokpal, Swaraj said "all BJP-ruled states have Lokayuktas."

First Published: Saturday, December 14, 2013 - 19:41
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