"I am not in favour of toppling any government"
Asserting that she had no intention of upsetting the Centre's applecart, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday clarified the apparent turnaround of the Trinamool Congress in Parliament over the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, saying her party did so because it wanted to ensure the federal structure in the country.
Speaking on the issue for the first time since the Bill failed to be ratified in the Rajya Sabha last week, Ms. Banerjee reiterated her party's stand that the Lokpal was a matter of the Central government and should be left to the Centre while the Lokayukta was to be appointed by the States and they should be free to take a decision instead of being imposed with a “model” by the Centre.
“I am in favour of having a Lokayukta… But I can have a better model. I can implement that which was not done by you [the Centre].” Ms. Banerjee said she was in favour of an all-party consensus as all parties were in favour of having a Lokpal.
Ms. Banerjee said the amendment to the Bill in the Lok Sabha (following which the Trinamool Congress MPs voted in its favour in the House) only ensured that the States would have the option of appointing a Lokayukta.
“The option is open, but the model has been given,” Ms. Banerjee said pointing out that the controversy emerged at a time when the Centre was increasingly impinging on the freedom of the States in areas that fall under the purview of the State governments.
“The Central government is passing laws that are binding on all States. Education and Health are State subjects,” she said adding that laws such as the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 had introduced several restrictions.