Party charges Manmohan, Pranab with being mute spectators in Rajya Sabha
The BJP is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to pin the blame on the government for the Lokpal Bill controversy in the Rajya Sabha. A delegation of party MPs, including NDA Working Chairman L.K. Advani, is scheduled to meet President Pratibha Patil on January 5 and seek her ‘intervention' in the matter. However, there is no clarity as to what exactly the party would like the President to do.
In a bid to derive the maximum political mileage on the issue, the BJP has asked its party units all over the country to observe a ‘protest week' from January 3 to 10.
However, the party leaders are careful about commenting on the role of Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, who was in the chair when the House was adjourned sine die. He said the disorder left him with no choice but to adjourn the House.
At a news conference, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad targeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for being mute spectators to the proceedings.
“The Prime Minister is a member of the Rajya Sabha and the Leader of the House. Mr. Mukherjee replied to the debate in the Lok Sabha and Dr. Singh intervened. Strangely, in the Upper House, Mr. Mukherjee chose to keep quiet and even the Prime Minister did not intervene. Dr. Singh has to answer why he chose to be silent,” Mr. Prasad said.
He charged the Congress with spreading baseless and factually incorrect views about the Opposition's role in the Upper House's failure to pass the proposed legislation.
Mr. Prasad posed a series of questions to the Congress and insisted on a clarification from Dr. Singh himself. He contended that on December 28, members of the Rajya Sabha got copies of the Bill passed by the Lok Sabha and wanted to know why the debate was not started in the Upper House post lunch the same day.
On the charge by the government that the Opposition made it very difficult for the passage of the Bill by moving 187 amendments, he said: “If you [the government] could handle 76 amendments in the Lok Sabha, why not 187 in the Rajya Sabha? Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley as well as the TMC [Trinamool Congress] had moved their amendments on December 28 itself ... Is it a crime to move amendments? They cannot take away this right. I can move 300 amendments. Each member can move one,” Mr. Prasad said.
He maintained that most of the amendments related only to three issues — appointment and removal of the Lokpal, autonomy to the CBI and the Lokayukta not being formed by a Central law. “Most of the amendments in the Lok Sabha also pertained to these three issues. So there was no surprise for the government.”