The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has consistently criticised the government's draft Lokpal Bill as “ineffective,” on Tuesday made it clear it could not support the Jan Lokpal Bill of the Anna Team either. “Some portions of the Jan Lokpal Bill cannot be accepted at all,” it said.

At a formal press conference, the BJP's deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha S.S. Ahluwalia said his party “was not in favour of the timeframe of August 30” for passing the Bill by Parliament, as demanded by Team Anna. He was also critical of the call given from the Ramlila grounds for “gherao” of Members of Parliament, suggesting this amounted to coercion of MPs who are “tied by the whip of their parties.”

Demanding that the government “withdraw its Bill and replace it with another,” Mr. Ahluwalia said it was for the government to find a way to do this. The BJP had said it was in favour of bringing the Prime Minister within the purview of the Lokpal; this had not been done in the government's draft Bill. The party also found fault with the government nominee dominated selection committee for the Lokpal.

At the same time, it was critical of the Jan Lokpal Bill of Team Anna. “We agree hundred per cent with some of its provisions; some other clauses can be improved; and there are other parts of the Bill which we cannot accept at all.”

Mr. Ahluwalia made the point that in the Standing Committee, many new suggestions could be incorporated and the Bill improved to meet the people's aspirations. “But the deposition of stake holders before the Committee takes time,” and the BJP was not for short circuiting the Standing Committee to bring the Bill for consideration and passing directly in Parliament.

Echoes CPI(M) stance

The BJP's stance echoed that of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which said on Tuesday it wanted an effective Bill; it wanted the Prime Minister to be under the Lokpal's jurisdiction; but it rejected the August 30 deadline.

Sensing political isolation if it continued to uncritically back the Jan Lokpal Bill and the unreasonable demands and ultimatums issued by Team Anna, the BJP decided to articulate its differences with those leading the so-called “people's movement.”

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