New Delhi: UPA hit back at the BJP for opposing the Lokpal Bill which was introduced in Parliament today, saying that the opposition was only trying to make a political point.
Home Minister P Chidambaram said that the Lokpal Bill had been referred to the standing committee and assured that the members will do everything to see that the it comes up in the next session of Parliament. He reiterated that the government had kept its promise to introduce the Lokpal Bill in the monsoon session. He also assured that the UPA government will also keep its promise to pass the bill.
The Home Minister clarified once again that the Prime Minister had not been given immunity as it was being made out. The PM was just being given a “temporary eclipse” in Chidambaram’s view and that if there was a complaint against the PM, proceeding against him could be initiated after he demitted office.
HRD and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, who was also present at the press conference, slammed the opposition for having “double standards” and indulging in “double speak” when it came to the Lokpal Bill. He said that on the one hand the BJP wanted the PM to be brought under the purview of the bill, but on the other hand the chief ministers in the BJP and NDA ruled states had been kept out of the ambit of the Lokayukta.
Sibal pointed out that the CMs of Gujarat, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttarakhand were given immunity from the Lokayukta. He further added that in Gujarat there was no Lokayaukta from 2003 to 2011.
Kapil Sibal also slammed Anna’s team for burning the copy of the Lokpal Bill on Thursday, saying that this amounted to an insult of Parliament.
Earlier, just before introduction of the bill, Speaker Meira Kumar gave permission to Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj to express her views as a special case.
Swaraj asked when the Prime Minister does not enjoy immunity from prosecution under the criminal law and Prevention of Corruption Act, why was he being kept out of the ambit of the Lokpal.
She maintained that as per the Constitution, everybody was equal and there is no immunity from IPC, CrPC or the Prevention of Corruption Act.
"It is for the first time that under Clause 2 of the Lokpal Bill, all Union ministers are included except the Prime Minister. I don`t understand why. How can anybody occupying any position be a holy cow. Why is the Prime Minister being kept out of its purview?" Swaraj posed.
She said as chairperson of the then Standing Committee on Home, Pranab Mukherjee had accepted that the Prime Minister should be within the purview of the Lokpal. "The Prime
Minister (Manmohan Singh) has himself said he wants to be within its ambit. Why is the Cabinet not paying heed to his views?" she asked.
With PTI Inputs