New Delhi: After an address by Leader of House Pranab Mukherjee, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj on Saturday said that today’s debate on Lokpal in the Parliament is an historic one.
Requesting the members to set an example by having a peaceful debate, Swaraj said that Anna Hazare's anti-graft campaign had brought the issue of Lokpal to the people and the massive support it garnered was because people were "fed up" of increasing corruption in the last two years.
Initiating the debate at a special sitting on the Lokpal Bill issue, Swaraj said every idea has a time. “Today, the Parliament will create history and give India a strong and effective Lokpal Bill so far,” she added.
The BJP leader said it was not the first time the Lokpal Bill was being taken up by the Parliament.
"This is not the first time the bill is being presented. It was brought to the House 8 times. Even our government failed to get it passed," she admitted.
"This movement has brought the issue to the public. Earlier whenever a draft was made it was limited to the intellectuals," Swaraj said.
Swaraj also said Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's unscheduled intervention in the Lok Sabha suggesting an autonomous Lokpal "poured cold water on" the statesmanship shown by the Prime Minister in breaking the logjam.
Moving ahead on the contentious issues raised by Anna Hazare, Swaraj said:
The BJP is in favour of the inclusion of the Prime Minister in the Lokpal ambit, but with two exceptions. “National security and External Affairs should be excluded,” Swaraj said, adding it was not possible to keep the PM out from the Lokpal Bill's purview, especially at a time when incriminated ministers have pointed to his alleged role in carrying out the actions they have been accused of.
She also insisted that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also favoured his inclusion in Lokpal.
The BJP seeks a National Judicial Commission, instead of bringing judiciary under Lokpal.
Jan Lokpal Bill wants to bring CBI’s (Central Bureau of Investigation) anti-corruption wing under Lokpal. The BJP, which wants to see the CBI as an autonomous body, said CBI was misused for bringing many leaders, including LK Advani in Hawala case. “What sort of party (Congress) is this where when you are with them, you are absolutely pure, and when you leave you suddenly are corrupt? We want an independent CBI. So let it be brought under the Lokpal, we support that.” Swaraj also termed CBI as Congress Bachao Institution.
The BJP is in favour Lokayuktas in all the states.
The BJP does not want MPs conduct in Parliament to be under scrutiny by external agencies. “The Constitution gives MPs immunity inside the House. That immunity should continue. But outside the House, we are ordinary citizens. Our behaviour outside should be subject to the Lokpal's review,” said Swaraj.
On the composition of Lokpal committee, the BJP said the government members should be less than non-government members. Insisting on the balance between the two sides, the BJP underlined that neither should government members be sidelined.
As far as lower bureaucracy is concerned, BJP is in favour of inclusion under Lokpal.
On ‘Deemed Corruption’ issue as a part of Citizens’ Charter, BJP seeks to differentiate between inefficiency and corruption. And was not in favour of fining government officials if work was not completed within 15 days.
First Published: Saturday, August 27, 2011, 11:49