Debate gets hotter while Lokpal Bill ends up in freezer
New Delhi: The Lokpal Bill, which dominated public discourse for much of the year, appeared to have gone into cold storage yesterday but the rhetoric got more vitriolic with calls for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation and the government fighting a lone battle to proclaim its sincere intentions.
A day after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die amid chaos at midnight on Thursday without putting to vote the bill for an anti-graft institution of an ombudsman, the battle lines were drawn. As people speculated on the political games, politicians traded charges in the surcharged atmosphere, ahead of the forthcoming elections in five states.
Members of Team Anna, headed by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, cried foul and blamed the government for deceiving the people but vowed to continue their fight for a Lokpal.
The earliest the bill can be considered is in February during the budget session of parliament. Confusion persisted over what form the bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on December 27, would be brought back to the Rajya Sabha. If there are new amendments, the bill would have to go back to the Lok Sabha.
"The government was defeated in the Lok Sabha on the constitutional amendment bill and they ran away from voting in the Rajya Sabha," said Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari
Fraud on democracy
"[It] has no right to retain power. The prime minister should tender his resignation, taking moral responsibility," he said.
"At the stroke of midnight hour when the world slept, India awoke to a fraud being played on its parliamentary democracy," added his colleague Arun Jaitley.
The government was under attack equally from its mercurial ally Trinamool Congress, which had moved 37 amendments against the inclusion of Lokayuktas in states and feared loss of their federal autonomy under it. "It is shameful, a sad day for democracy," said Trinamool's Derek O'Brien.
Hazare supporter denies event was flop
Even as social activist Anna Hazare is under medical advice to rest after his spell of illness during a fast in Mumbai, his supporters are insisting that the agitation in this city was no ‘flop'.
The media had reported on the low turnout out and described the three-day protest in suburban Bandra as disastrous. However, Mayank Gandhi of the Mumbai Chapter of the India Against Corruption, says, "I completely disagree with the statements that it was a flop or no-show." While the government refused to give more space in Azad Maidan the alternative ground allowed was away from railway stations, he said.