Hours after Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the BJP vote against the Constitution amendment bill was a U-turn from its earlier position, the BJP retorted that it had merely rejected a bill that was "unconstitutional".
"The bill had called for the creation of a Lokayukta in every state by a law made by Parliament or by state legislature," senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said at a media conference.
"We asked for the insertion of 'under Article 252' after the word 'Parliament' so as to make it optional, as the bill was violating the federal structure, but they did not accept this. Had they accepted this, we would have helped to get it passed."
Senior leader Arun Jaitley added, "When Parliament passes a constitutional amendment Bill, it is its obligation to see that it should not enact an imperfect, unconstitutional law. Parliament can’t consciously enact imperfect, unconstitutional legislation."
The BJP wanted a model law not binding on states under Article 252 of the Constitution. The government’s proposal for lokayukta is made under Article 253, which, the BJP said, would be binding.
In its dissent note before the Standing Committee on Law and Justice, the BJP, however, had left it to the government to provide for lokayukta under Article 253 or 252, "if constitutionally permitted".
"The government has been arrogant," Swaraj added. "Kapil Sibal said we were embracing corruption, and the prime minister talked only about the government's commitment."
At the time of the voting in the Lok Sabha, Swaraj told party MPs to support BJD's Bhartruhari Mahtab's amendment on 'preserving' the federal structure, so the government’s exact numbers could be known through the 'noes'.
Once it found the number to be just around 247 — far short of the special majority required — the BJP voted out each clause to make the bill infructuous.
Indicating that it would move amendments and oppose the Lokpal Bill when it comes to the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, the BJP said the Congress should first get its house in order and allies on board before taking on the opposition.
(With PTI inputs)