Party distances itself from spokesperson's remark on Tuesday
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday underplayed the response of its spokesperson on Tuesday night describing the new Lokpal Bill as “betrayal of the people” on the plea that it was based on media reports and insisted that it would give its considered view only after the official version was available.
Throughout the day, party leaders kept maintaining that they could not comment on the new Bill that was cleared by the Cabinet till they had seen the ‘fine print' of the proposed legislation.
The cautious approach is based on the premise that an instant reaction suggesting opposition to the Bill would give an impression that it is coming in the way of passage of a legislation that has generated intense debate.
Besides, the party would like to gauge the response of others before pronouncing its view. As the Bill would come up for consideration and passage only on December 27, the BJP would have the benefit of another five days to formulate its response.
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said for the record that the party would wait to see how far the government had accommodated the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) views as articulated in the dissent note appended to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
The NDA members on the Committee had flagged 18 points in the dissent note. The nature and degree of jurisdiction of the Lokpal on the CBI and inclusion of the Prime Minister under the institution are among the two major issues that figure in the note.
With the Cabinet putting its seal of approval on inclusion of the Prime Minister with some safeguards under the Lokpal, the BJP should have no quarrel with the government on the issue.
However, the CBI would be a bone of contention. Unlike what has been approved by the government, the BJP wants the Lokpal to be on the panel to select the CBI Director.
The new Bill envisages that the Director would be chosen by a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.
The BJP also wants the Lokpal to have administrative control over the CBI. It would entail the issues like postings, transfer and disciplinary action of those associated with the CBI.
The party leaders said that if the Bill, as proposed by the government, does not reflect the points raised by the NDA members in the dissent note, they would move amendments when the Bill comes up for consideration and passage.