A political tussle erupted over the Aam Aadmi Party’s showpiece Janlokpal bill on Saturday, with expelled party member Prashant Bhushan accusing Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of diluting the provisions of the much-vaunted legislation, and the AAP claiming that the lawyer was “working at the behest” of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In a series of tweets, Bhushan – who was an AAP founder – said Kejriwal had diluted the provisions of the Janlokpal draft prepared by the Anna Hazare movement and the CM didn’t want the bill to be passed.
#AapJokepalBill with govt appt & controlled Lokpal w/o investigative agency is a shocking betrayal of the Anticorruption movement & people!— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) November 28, 2015
By providing that Delhi Lokpal will investigate corruption of Central govt in #AapJokepalBill AK has ensured that LG will not allow&it fails— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) November 28, 2015
He read out certain provisions of the bill that are yet to be made public that say central officials and ministers were under the purview of the bill – clauses that Bhushan said were inserted to provoke confrontation.
“No activist or movement in India’s history has played such a big fraud with people. This will only ensure that the central government does not approve and the Bill never gets passed. Kejriwal never had the intention to form a strong Lokpal body,” the former AAP leader said.
Why send people who know nothing abt Lokpal to make false claims abt #AAPKaJokePal. Let AK come to debate it himself if he has guts or shame— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) November 28, 2015
Dissident AAP MLA Pankaj Pushkar, who was also present at the presser at Bhushan’s Noida residence, claimed that he had managed to get hold of its copy in his capacity as a member of the Business Advisory Committee.
The Janlokpal bill that would set up an ombudsman to probe corruption complaints against government officials was a key AAP poll promise that is said to have propelled the party to a massive win.
The AAP hit back hours later, saying the bill was India’s strongest anti-corruption legislation and that not one word had been changed from the draft created during the Anna Hazare protest days.
“The appointment committee will have the chief minister, chief justice of high court, speaker and opposition leader. How can they say that CM will have complete say in selection when you have such an independent committee,” senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh told HT.
“How come they have not seen one good thing in Kejriwal’s nine months of government and not one bad thing in Modi’s one-and-a-half years? This raises doubt if their allegations against AAP government are motivated,” he added.
The AAP further claimed that Bhushan was opposing the Janlokpal Bill at the behest of the BJP.
“This is the same bill which was introduced by the AAP government (during its 49-day rule). Prashant ji was fine when the same bill was introduced during the AAP’s last government,” AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha said. “Why did he not raise any issue at the time? Now that the BJP is in power, he does not want the Lokpal to investigate the Centre. He should join the BJP and also make public relations between (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley and the Bhushans.
The rookie AAP had risen from a massive anti-corruption movement and rode to a landslide win last year in the Capital.
But since then, it has been embroiled in a string of controversies, including a prolonged face-off with the Centre over the city’s administrative control and the expulsion of Bhushan and Yadav, who spoke out against Kejriwal’s alleged dictatorial tendencies.
With agency inputs