Amid indications that the government may not be able to get the Lokpal Bill through in the Rajya Sabha, Congress on Thursday made a fervent appeal to the United Progressive Alliance ally Trinamool Congress to give the legislation a chance despite differing perceptions.
“Perceptions may be different but allow it to be operationalised. Allow this legislation to work its way through the system. It may end up proving you wrong. Let us not throw the baby along with the bath water,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters in New Delhi.
He was asked to comment on the Trinamool Congress’ insistence on the amendments in the Bill and why Congress failed to take the ally on board on the issue.
The Congress spokesperson also targeted the Oppostion particularly the Bharatiya Janata Party over the issue saying that by opposing the Bill, it has given a message to the country that neither its conscience nor intent is clear on the issue.
“UPA demonstrated its substance and intent by bringing the bill while the Opposition particularly the BJP has demonstrated cussedness by opposing the Bill... Today it is the intent of the Opposition which is under test ,” Mr. Tewari said but hoped that wisdom would ultimately prevail and the Bill would be allowed to go through.
He was also critical of the BJP for its statement that it was not the Opposition party’s job to fulfil Rahul Gandhi’s vision (of Constitutional status to Lokpal).
“This is an unfortunate and sad statement inspired by petty politics that this proposal be opposed only because Rahul Gandhi mooted it,” Mr. Tewari said.
Pointing out that the Trinamool Congress is sticking to its demand for moving amendments in the Bill, Mr. Tewari said, “amendments can be brought in any legislation but that does not mean that the law is not passed. If there are certain lacunae, they can be examined even later on.”
Mr. Tewari said if the bill has some shortcomings, it can be addressed during operationalisation as Parliament is always free and empowered to make corrections in it.
He, however, downplayed Trinamool’s opposition to the provision for appointment of Lokayuktas in the states saying, “regional parties may come from a different political understanding of a different situation."
A leader speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, said that government and the Congress were of the view that since it is states in which the people live, it will not be a a good idea to leave to them the appointment of Lokayuktas when it comes to enacting a broad based anti-corruption measure in the country.
At the AICC briefing, Mr. Tewari, however, said, “If you feel, it needs to be amended, then Parliament is empowered to do even after its operationalisation. Why do you want to kill something at the initial stage?”
Asked how the government will manage the numbers to get the legislation through in Rajya Sabha, where it is in minority, Mr. Tewari merely said, ”The arithmetics of Rajya Sabha is known to all. It is necessary that we rise above party politics.”
To a question on whether any action would be taken against Congress MPs, who absented from the debate in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, he said the question can be answered more holistically by the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.