Lokpal fiasco: All out war between Cong, BJP

A political war broke out between govt and Oppn on Friday over Rajya Sabha`s failure to pass Lokpal Bill yesterday.

Last Updated: Dec 30, 2011, 23:59 PM IST

New Delhi: A political war broke out between
government and Opposition on Friday over Rajya Sabha`s failure to
pass Lokpal Bill yesterday, with both sides accusing each of
carrying out "well choreographed" chaos to scuttle it.

Under attack that it ran away from a vote because of lack
of majority in the House, the government launched a media
blitzkrieg in which BJP was the main target and painted as
"villain" of the midnight drama.

The government underlined that the bill was "alive" and
would be taken up in the Budget Session and get it passed
after working with parties.

In all the charges and counter charges, the government
sought not to annoy its ally Trinamool Congress, which had
ganged up with the Opposition and declared that it would vote
against the provisions relating to Lokayuktas.

Chidambaram went a step further to say that Trinamool`s
concerns could be addressed by refining the provisions.

In its barrage, the BJP and the Left accused the
government of "subterfuge and sabotage" through its allies and
friendly parties, mainly the RJD.

Seeking to bring Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in their line of fire for
"keeping silent" during the episode, Leaders of Opposition in
both the Houses Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj said the
government has lost the right to continue in office after the
defeat in both the Houses and face fresh elections.

The government fielded four of its senior ministers - P
Chidambaram, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ambika
Soni - to launch a scathing attack on BJP.

"The BJP had no intention to pass the Bill. So they hit
upon an ingenous devise to move 187 amendments, many of them
contradictory and many of them cannot be reconciled in a few
minutes," Chidambaram told a joint press conference.

"The cat was out of the bag when the Leader of Opposition
said at the start of the debate yesterday that we are
confident that three crucial amendments will be passed. How
did he know? So they must have got into an understanding with
some other parties," Chidambaram said.

Claiming that the government had done everything
possible, he wondered how a minister could accept amendments
against his wish and "down the throat of the government. How
can he say `the bill as amended (by opposition) be passed`?"

Replying to questions on the impact of the development on
the poll prospects of Congress, Soni said the party would use
the issue during the campaign in the upcoming Assembly
elections in five states.

In the Lok Sabha, Chidambaram said, the government "bent
over backwards" to accommodate critical amendments of even the
Opposition but was surprised when the same parties behaved
differently in the Rajya Sabha, bringing 187 amendments.

Earlier, Bansal held a separate press conference which
was focussed on attacking BJP while other ministers - Salman
Khurshid and V Narayanasamy - echoed similar views.

The Congress party also fielded its spokesman Abhishek
Manu Singhvi, who said the "assassins (BJP) were accusing the
victims."

Rahul Gandhi also accused the BJP of sabotaging the Bill
which he said the government was determined to get passed.

Upping its ante, BJP alleged that the disturbances caused
in the Rajya Sabha had the "blessings" of the Prime Minister
and Mukherjee.

Charging the government with preventing the nation from
getting a strong Lokpal, he said it was "very capable" of
manipulation, managing and fixing."

The Leader of Opposition said, "The strategy of BJP and
several other opposition parties was to defeat a weak and
spurious Lokpal law and insist on amendments which would
improve and convert the weak law into a strong law."

Jaitley maintained that "the worst kept secret since 6
pm" yesterday was that the government is going to create a
disturbance with the help of a friendly party to avoid the
embarrassment of facing a defeat on the Lokpal Bill.

"Subversion of Rajya Sabha by the government by denying
it the opportunity to make an effective legislation is a
significant moral scar on this government. The Prime Minister
must now live with one more moral stigma. He won the 2008 vote
of confidence through bribery," Jaitley said.

Swaraj said the BJP would launch a nationwide campaign
on "dumping" of the Lokpal by the UPA.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury accused the government of
"subterfuge and sabotage" in not allowing voting on the Bill,
saying "chaos" was created in an "orchestrated" manner to
stall the crucial legislation.

The UPA used its allies like Trinamool and supporters like
RJD to "create chaos", he said blaming Bansal and Narayanasamy
for not allowing the House to continue proceedings. "The UPA
government is squarely responsible for this," he said.

Taking the Trinamool Congress (TC) to task, Yechury said
their stand on the Lokpal issue was "surprising as the same
people did not raise these issues earlier in the Lok Sabha and
also inside the Union Cabinet when it debated the Bill."

PTI