New Delhi: A day after voting was unable to take place in the Lower House of Parliament on Lokpal Bill, Home Minister P Chidambaram assured the nation that the bill was very much alive. “The Lokpal Bill is still safe and not defeated in the Rajya Sabha. It will be taken up in the Budget Session and we will talk to all the parties concerned,” he said.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital on Friday the Home Minister categorically said, “We made every effort to reach out to the political parties and the government accepted crucial amendments suggested by political parties. We did our best to pass the bill in Lok Sabha.”
The senior Congress leader did accept that differences existed among UPA allies. Nonetheless he added, “I would not go so far as to say that there is a pattern in confrontational behaviour (of Trinamool Congress).
Answering to a journalist’s query on BJP’s stand on the Lokpal Bill the HomeMinister was blunt in his criticism of the main Opposition, “BJP had no intention of passing Lokpal Bill. That is why 187 opposition amendments were moved.”
“It is quite clear that apart from regional parties, BJP wanted a weakened bill. By no stretch of imagination 187 amendments could have been examined, analysed and accepted or rejected in the time available yesterday,” he pointed out.
In a stern reply to the criticisms levelled at the ruling party for scuttling the spirit of democracy, Chidambaram said, “Parties were forcing amendments down under the govt’s throat and also Govt rejects charges of orchestrating ruckus in the parliament.
The Congress party has been under heavy fire from the Opposition, both Left and right after the midnight drama in Rajya Sabha during the debate on Lokpal Bill. The Opposition has accused the government of ‘orchestrating’ the events that unfolded in the Upper House yesterday so that voting was not able to take place on the anti-graft bill. It is being said that the government shied away from voting as it did not have enough numbers to pass the bill.
Even allies of Congress like the TMC has called the shocking events that unfolded yesterday as ‘sad’.
The Home Minister was accompanied by three of his senior colleagues, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Ambika Soni and Gulam Nabi Azad. Adding to Chidambaram’s criticism of the Opposition, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said, “We have different mindset as compared with the ideologies of Bharatiya Janata Party. They first supported Anna Hazare`s movement for a Lokpal and later defeated it in the Rajya Sabha.”
He also dismissed suggestions that the government may convene a joint session of Parliament to get the Lokpal Bill passed as it does not enjoy a majority in the Lower House and its coalition partner Trinamool Congress is opposed to some provisions in the legislation.
Bansal clarified that Rajya Sabha had to be adjourned sine die at midnight as there was no way that the session could have extended beyond that time.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister put up a brave face when he was reminded that the TMC too was blaming the government for its failure in getting an effective anti-graft bill passed and for "choreographing" the entire exercise in the Rajya Sabha.
"They are free to have their views," Bansal said, adding that the government was talking to all its allies, including the Trinamool Congress, to arrive at a consensus.
"We have to wait for three months anyway," he reminded the media.
Bansal also said that he was ‘pained’ to hear Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley say that Thursday`s debate was ‘choreographed’ by government with the idea of avoiding a vote on the bill.