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Left & Right, all for Anna

Social activist Anna Hazare's arrest on Tuesday morning saw parties from across the Opposition spectrum close ranks to protest government "repression". HT reports.

delhi Updated: Aug 17, 2011 00:55 IST
HT Correspondent
anna hazare

A-supporter-of-anti-corruption-activist-Anna-Hazare-holds-a-placard-in-New-Delhi

Social activist Anna Hazare's arrest on Tuesday morning saw parties from across the Opposition spectrum close ranks to protest government "repression".

A meeting of the BJP, JD(U), Shiv Sena, CPI(M), CPI, SP, RJD and TDP saw the parties - their ideological differences notwithstanding - coming together to demand a discussion on the matter and a statement by the Prime Minister on Wednesday.

"The Prime Minister should make a statement in both Houses of Parliament on whatever is happening in the country," Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said.

The BJD, AIADMK and BSP were not present at the meeting.

The other joint demands were: immediate release of Hazare and granting unconditional permission to him to protest peacefully.

But CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta's proposal for a three-day boycott of Parliamentary proceedings did not find favour, with even CPM leader Sitaram Yechury reportedly saying that this would allow the government to push through bills without discussion.

Also, the Rajya Sabha had to take up the discussion on justice Soumitra Sen on Wednesday, which could not be set aside. The Rajya Sabha will take up the matter at 3pm, Leader of the Opposition in the House Arun Jaitley said later.

The Opposition parties focused on the violation of the right to peaceful dissent rather than on the nitty gritty of the lokpal bill itself.

"There can be different views on the (lokpal) bill, but each person has freedom of expression," said Jaitley.

"(Police conditions) should be reasonable… There can't be a condition that renders redundant the right to protest..."

"To move the Bill in Parliament is the government's work, and the Parliament takes a final call on it in our system. But does this mean that a citizen cannot protest peacefully?" BJP president Nitin Gadkari said later.

The BJP has carefully played it both ways till now: while it has backed Hazare from outside, it also faulted the government for engaging civil society but not the Opposition when it was asked its views on lokpal.

Other political parties, too, had refused to open their cards at that time, even as they attacked the government.

RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said after the Opposition meet, "We will continue to demand the PM's statement on this issue."