HP govt official cancels meeting with Kejriwal



New Delhi: Apparently upset over the critical comments on state Lokayukta Bill, Himachal Pradesh government on Monday cancelled a meeting with Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal, who attacked BJP saying it appeared the saffron party and Congress were on the same page on the legislation.

Kejriwal described the Himachal's Lokayukta Bill as "very weak and ineffective" and also asked whether BJP was disowning the "strong" law passed by a BJP-led government in Uttarakhand earlier this year by bringing such a bill in the state.

"The Bill is very weak, ineffective and seeks to provide illegitimate protection to corrupt people rather than punish them. Rather than adopt the strong model of Uttarkhand, Himachal government has adopted many of the controversial provisions of central government. This is unfortunate.

"Does it mean that BJP disowns its own Uttarakhand Bill? Does it also mean BJP and Congress are on same page on some of the controversial provisions of central bill?" Kejriwal said.

His reaction came as Himachal Pradesh government cancelled a function scheduled here this morning to present a copy of the Lokayukta Bill to the activist.

PC Dhiman, Principal Secretary (Home) was to present a copy of the Lokayukta Bill to Kejriwal. A senior government official did not give reasons for the cancellation but claimed that the programme is rescheduled and it will be held in a couple of days.

A Team Anna member claimed Kejriwal was informed about the cancellation of the function this morning.

Kejriwal said that no reason was given to him for cancellation of the event. "They just asked me to send a written response when I told them that the Bill was quite bad," Kejriwal said.

The Himachal government's press liaison office had last week sent invitations to media houses regarding the function.

Chief Minister PK Dhumal is understood to have cleared consultations with Team Anna earlier. He had repeatedly said the government would bring a strong Lokayukta Bill after consulting all concerned, including Team Anna members.

However, Dhumal had earlier attacked Kejriwal saying the activist cannot "dictate terms".

Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, had last week led the attack against Team Anna by taking strong objection to the language used by the activists against Parliament and MPs.

She had said that by speaking against democratic institutions, the civil society members were indirectly inviting dictatorship.

Swaraj was of the view that Team Anna has "lost direction" as while on the one hand, it wants the Lokpal Bill to be cleared by Parliament and on the other, it was insulting MPs by making uncivilised statements.

Reacting to MPs being reportedly termed as "looters", "corrupt" and "rapists" by Kejriwal, she said if such was the case then why did it send three of its demands to be incorporated in a resolution passed by Parliament.

Swaraj recalled that BJP, along with other opposition parties, had supported Anna Hazare's demand for a strong Lokpal Bill and had even slammed the government for brining a "weak" legislation.

PTI