Until Prime Minister makes a statement on Hazare, Parliament cannot function: Sushma Swaraj

Opposition parties led by the Bharatiya Janata Party and supported by the Left on Tuesday worked out a common strategy to corner the government on its “undemocratic” suppression of social activist Anna Hazare's “movement” against corruption.

At the initiative of the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, leaders cutting across the Right-Left spectrum, gathered in her chamber in the Parliament House and conferred for about an hour from 2 p.m.

While they rejected a “3-day boycott of Parliament” proposal of CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta, they decided to insist on a statement from the Prime Minister on the early morning arrest of Mr. Hazare and his companions. Ms. Swaraj later said that until this statement was made, Parliament could not function. And they wanted the right to discuss issues arising from that statement.

While there was no clarity from the government on what its response would be, Ms. Swaraj's counterpart in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, indicated that the Upper House would run on Wednesday afternoon irrespective of anything else as “the House will have to perform its judicial function” in the matter of impeachment of Justice Soumitra Sen of the Kolkata High Court.

He defended the decision to stall Parliament if a statement from the Prime Minister was not forthcoming as “the right to dissent was the essence of democracy” and the government was trying to hide behind “police action” on Mr. Hazare. The joint demand of the Opposition parties includes immediate release of Mr. Hazare (he was released later but refused to come out of jail) and supporters and their right to carry forward their agitation peacefully.

Initially, the CPI(M) was reluctant to join the deliberations in Ms. Swaraj's chamber — party leader Basudeb Acharia said as much — but later Ramchandra Dom and Sitaram Yechury participated in the closed-door deliberations. Representatives of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Telugu Desam Party, the Samajwadi Party and NDA allies, the Shiv Sena and the Janata Dal (United), were also present. The Bahujan Samaj Party did not respond to Ms. Swaraj's invitation and the Biju Janata Dal was absent as “it could not be contacted,” Ms. Swaraj said.

The Left stance, as articulated by Mr. Dasgupta and D. Raja, is they were with the other Opposition parties on the limited issue of guarding the fundamental democratic right to protest.

Mr. Dasgupta said: “The issue is the democratic right to hold a peaceful agitation … Opposition parties?have joined ranks to prevent the government from curbing this right.”

On teaming up with the BJP, he added: “There can be no [political] untouchability” on the issue of democratic rights.?

Mr. Raja asserted it was neither the start of the Left sharing a “larger political platform with the BJP,” nor the beginning of what happened during the JP movement or later when V.P. Singh took up Bofors as the main issue.


Rajya Sabha wants Justice Sen removedAugust 18, 2011

Hazare refuses to leave jail, opposes time limit on fastAugust 17, 2011

Crowds outside Tihar Jail wait for Anna’s appearanceAugust 17, 2011

Charges made against me as Receiver, not as judge: SenAugust 17, 2011

Upper House turned into courtAugust 18, 2011

Rajya Sabha adjourns after uproar over Hazare detentionAugust 16, 2011

Corrupt, repressive and stupidAugust 17, 2011

Not surprised at Hazare’s detention: AdvaniAugust 16, 2011

A rehearsal to Emergency, says Nitish KumarAugust 16, 2011

Protests, bandh in Hazare's home town August 16, 2011

Hazare detained as he intended to defy prohibitory orders: Home SecretaryAugust 16, 2011

Government stifling democracy, says BJPAugust 15, 2011

Government toughens stand on AnnaAugust 14, 2011

Ramdev to Manmohan: Don’t allow repeat of Ramlila crackdown August 15, 2011

Decision today on moving court, after consultations with HazareAugust 16, 2011

Over thousand Hazare supporters detained in MaharashtraAugust 16, 2011

Parliament alone can make laws, says Manmohan August 17, 2011

Hazare arrest sparks angry protestsAugust 16, 2011

Hundreds turn up for anti-corruption protest in BangaloreAugust 16, 2011

Anna Hazare refuses to leave Tihar JailAugust 16, 2011

Conditions that Team Anna Hazare did not agree toAugust 16, 2011

BJP rejects Anna's demand on Jan Lokpal BillAugust 16, 2011

Left parties to protest today August 16, 2011

Dangerous precedentAugust 17, 2011

Rajya Sabha to take up motion against Justice Sen today August 17, 2011

Government arrests Anna, then blinksAugust 16, 2011

CPI(M) says arrest smacks of “dictatorial tendencies”August 17, 2011

Hazare's path is misconceived: ManmohanAugust 17, 2011

Hazare free to go anywhere: GovtAugust 17, 2011

‘Anna to come out only if allowed to fast without conditions’August 17, 2011

More In: National | News