Even the British did not slap curbs on public protests: Opposition
Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasised the supremacy of Parliament in drafting and making laws and cautioned against social activist Anna Hazare's path of imposing his draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill on Parliament, the Opposition said his statement was “disappointing” and failed to “inspire confidence.”
In an identical statement in both Houses on Wednesday, Dr. Singh said the path chosen by Mr. Hazare to “impose his draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill upon Parliament is totally misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our parliamentary democracy.”
He acknowledged that Mr. Hazare might be “inspired by high ideals in his campaign to set up a strong and effective Lok Pal,” and clarified that the issue between the government and the activist was not one of different attitudes to fighting corruption.
He assured Parliament: “We are determined to provide a government that is transparent, accountable and responsive at all times and determined to fight corruption.” He invited all sections of Parliament to join hands with the government in dealing with corruption.
Dr. Singh said a functional democracy must allow multiple voices to be heard. “But differences of opinion must be resolved through dialogue and consensus.”
Stressing the supremacy of Parliament, he said it was the sole prerogative of Parliament to make laws and the government had gone by well-settled principles.
Terming Dr. Singh's statement “disappointing” and “not inspiring confidence,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley demanded that the government take “bold decisions” to tackle corruption.
Denouncing the restrictions imposed by the Delhi Police, he said the curbs slapped on public protests by the United Progressive Alliance government were something unheard of even during the British rule. “The country is exasperated with the government and the level of corruption during the UPA's rule, and hence people have taken to the streets.”
Brinda Karat of the CPI(M) said Mr. Hazare's arrest was a “blatant assault” on the democratic rights of citizens. The Prime Minister's statement was adding to the fairy tale of the Home Minister, who said it was the Delhi Police who acted on their own. “The government is browbeating Anna Hazare, and the Prime Minister's statement is insensitive to the assault on civil society. The government is suffering from selective amnesia.”
In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj dismissed the statement as a “bundle of lies,” alleging that the UPA government was not only corrupt but also repressive. “The lengthy statement conceals more than it reveals,” she said. Protection of civil rights was one of the most important principles in a democratic country.
Mulayam Singh of the Samajwadi Party termed the arrest “unconstitutional” and said the government would have to “apologise” for it.