Opposition party questions SP member moving resolution on select committee

The BJP on Tuesday charged the government with once again running away from Parliament on the Lokpal Bill. On Monday, the Bill was sent to a select committee by the Rajya Sabha after high drama and uncertainty over the fate of the much-awaited legislation.

BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy told journalists here that the government had leaned on the shoulders of a member of the ‘friendly Opposition party' to avoid the blame that it was coming in the way of immediate passage of the Bill.

He was referring to the initial motion moved by Samajwadi Party member Naresh Aggarwal seeking to refer the Bill to a 15-member select committee. Amid vehement protests from the Opposition benches, the government agreed to move the same motion.

“Both the intention and policy of the government are not right on the issue. It only knows how to show off. The last time, it got a copy of the Lokpal Bill torn and this time it got a resolution from another party. The government intends to delay the Lokpal Bill somehow,” party spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.

The Opposition was caught unawares on the intent of the government to refer the Bill to a select committee, particularly after it had circulated an amendment to de-link the Lokayukta from the Lokpal. Several States and regional parties were opposed to a provision in the Bill which would have made it mandatory for the States to appoint a Lokayukta. Their contention was that it was against the spirit of federalism.

Strangely, the amendment on the Lokayukta mooted by the government which favoured enactment of a model law for the States under Article 252 of the Constitution could not have been taken up by the Rajya Sabha as it required the endorsement of at least two Assemblies.

So, what prompted the government to attempt what was not feasible? Indications are that the UPA government wanted to buy more time. It suited the government when Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley pointed out to Chairperson Hamid Ansari that the amendment could not be introduced without assent of at least two Assemblies.

After that, four Ministers — Salman Khurshid, Kapil Sibal, Pawan Kumar Bansal and V. Narayanasamy — met Mr. Jaitley to discuss the matter where the idea of a select committee was mooted.

The BJP had no serious objection to the suggestion as in the opinion of the party it would help it persuade the government to agree to some more of its recommendations on the Bill.

With the government agreeing to leave the Lokayukta issue to the States, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress would have been on board and the UPA would have had the numerical strength to push the Bill in the House.

However, the BJP's demand for autonomy to the CBI and appointment of the Lokpal by a neutral body had still not been accepted by the government.

Keywords: Lokpal Bill

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