Cornered, as its biggest ally Trinamool Congress insisted on deleting the lokayukta provision from the lokpal bill, the government postponed voting in the Rajya Sabha after an 11-hour-long debate on Thursday.
File photo of Rajya Sabha Speaker Hamid Ansari.
But before that, the government, in its efforts to save the situation, negotiated with the SP and BSP for abstention from voting, as they did in the Lok Sabha. That, too, was not to happen.
With the Lok Sabha passing the bill on Tuesday, the earliest the Upper House can now take it up for passing is during the budget session beginning in February.
On Thursday, in a virtual replay of the Lok Sabha debate two days ago, every leader - except those from the Congress - found fault with the lokayukta provisions.
The tone for the day was set by leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley, who tore into the bill, saying the government was trying to wreak "constitutional havoc" on the country by bringing a bill which would be vulnerable, if challenged in a court.
"If you are creating history, let us not create bad history. We will be leaving a lot of task for the next generation to do," he said.
As numbers and allies stacked unfavourably, the exit route from defeat in the Upper House came, ironically, in the form of a disruption of proceedings by two RJD members, Rajniti Prasad and Ramkripal Yadav, even as their leader Lalu Prasad - a member of the Lok Sabha - watched it from the gallery.
Prasad and Yadav interrupted the reply by minister for personnel V Narayanasamy. Yadav even snatched papers from the minister.
Narayanasamy's reply soon deteriorated into chaos, with accusations flying thick and fast, forcing an adjournment at 11.28pm for 15 minutes.
When the House reassembled at 11.43, parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal said given the 187 amendments moved in the Rajya Sabha, the government would like more time consider them.
"An unprecedented situation of everyone trying to outshout each other has arisen," House chairman and vice-president Hamid Ansari said declaring adjournment of the House 12.07am.
Pat came the reply from Jaitley: "No sir. There is a desire to avoid the vote (by the government)."
Agitated opposition MPs shouted slogans soon after the national song was over, and marched out of the building. Even Trinamool leaders said outside the House that it was an orchestrated move to disrupt the House.
"A government that is afraid of facing a vote has no right to stay," Jaitley said.
"This debate and the disruption are choreographed by a minority government to ensure that no voting takes place."
Taking a swipe at the government over its lack of the required numbers in the House, Jaitley offered it the BJP's support in case it was prepared to amend key provisions of the bill.
Countering Jaitley, Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi charged the BJP with giving the bill an "advanced premature certificate" of unconstitutionality.
"If you don't want to pass the bill, say so, and have the courage and don't hide behind excuses," he said.
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