Govt should get Lokpal bill passed with amendments: BJP

Expressing full support to the Lokpal issue, BJP dared the government to bring the bill with amendments unanimously adopted by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee and get it passed in the ongoing winter session of Parliament.

PTI| Last Updated: Dec 12, 2013, 18:11 PM IST

New Delhi: Expressing full support to the Lokpal issue, BJP on Thursday dared the government to bring the bill with amendments unanimously adopted by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee and get it passed in the ongoing winter session of Parliament.

In a press conference in Parliament House, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley alleged that the government does not want to pass important bills like the one on Lokpal and formation of Telangana.

BJP said just as the government got the supplementary demands for grants (general) and (Railways) passed in the din, it should get the Lokpal Bill passed too as it has been debated for last 46 years and also cleared by the RS Select Committee.

"The Lokpal Bill was sent to a Select Committee of Rajya Sabha. The Committee, which was headed by a Congress member, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, held several sittings and all political parties were privy to it. There were 13 unanimous recommendations adopted by the Committee.

"Government should bring the bill with these amendments and BJP will support it along with the UPA. The Rajya Sabha can pass it tomorrow and it can be passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday," Jaitley said.

Opposition pressure on the Lokpal Bill comes against the backdrop of the ongoing fast by Anna Hazare to press for passage of the legislation and the impressive performance of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi elections. The Lokpal movement had led to the formation of AAP.

Alleging that the "bonafides" of the government on this issue are suspect, BJP said the Select Committee had submitted its report on December 23, 2012 but the Manmohan Singh dispensation had still not brought the Lokpal Bill.

The main Opposition also emphasised that the Select Committee report is a property of the Upper House and the Union Cabinet does not have any right to amend it.

Jaitley said only the Rajya Sabha has the right to make amendments to the Lokpal Bill and then send it to Lok Sabha for discussion and passage.

BJP announced that the government should drop the two amendments on which there is disagreement. Government is opposed to the amendment which states that the Lokpal should be consulted before a CBI officer probing a case is transferred.

While the Opposition maintains this will check undue interference of the government, the government insists it has the right to post and transfer officials.

The other amendment on which there is no agreement between the government and Opposition is on search and seizure of an official`s property. Government maintains he should be show-caused first when a charge of disproportionate assets is made against him while the Opposition says it will take away the element of suddenness and surprise and alert the person.

BJP charged that the government itself is responsible for disruptions in Parliament. "Usually it is the Opposition which is blamed if there are disruptions in the House but in the last two sessions- monsoon and winter- the ruling side has been fully responsible for it. Congress, YSR Congress, TDP MPs are in the Well of the House as soon as it assembles. SP and BSP, outside allies of UPA, too disrupt the House," Swaraj said.

She said that Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath had called her to discuss the near-washout of the winter session.
"I told him that if the government cannot run the House then why does it call a session. The Opposition has been silent and is cooperating. The government wants to take advantage of the situation (disruptions) and run away... I said if you can pass supplementary demand for grants in the din then pass the Lokpal Bill too," she said.
She denied that her party is showing keenness on passing the Lokpal Bill keeping in mind the Lok Sabha polls and the rise of Aam Aadmi Party.