The UPA government’s plan to push the Lokpal bill through the Rajya Sabha was stalled by its ally, the Samajwadi Party (SP), which even threatened to support a no-confidence motion brought by some Lok Sabha MPs from Andhra Pradesh.
The government, faced with the ongoing indefinite fast by social activist Anna Hazare and the spectacular performance by the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi assembly polls, managed to reach an agreement with the BJP on key provisions of the bill, but could not cross the SP hurdle.
“For us, the issue of price rise is more important than Lokpal. We do not support this bill in the present form. It will lead to police raj where the Lokpal will dictate terms,” said SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav.
Party sources hinted that the SP won’t hesitate to vote in favour of a no-confidence motion pending in the Lok Sabha if the government persisted with the bill. “If the motion is taken up in the House, we will support it though we will not give a separate notice,” said a party leader.
The notice for this motion has been given by six Congress MPs from Seemandhra, along with the TDP and YSR Congress, all of whom are opposed to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
SP members also forced repeated disruptions in the house.
They didn’t not allow any discussion on the bill despite majority of the other parties ready to pass it. With the House failing to transact any business, the deputy chairman PJ Kurien adjourned it till Monday.
The BJP, which had reservations over some points of the bill, reached an understanding with the government after an agreement on its key demand that any Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officer probing a corruption case be transferred only with the consent of the Lokpal.
Leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, in a detailed statement, listed out the areas of disagreement, which included the independence of CBI and keeping non-religious organisations not funded by the government within the Lokpal’s ambit.
Despite this, the BJP expressed its willingness to get the bill passed even without any discussion. The government also faced trouble from an unexpected quarter when it was learnt that Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari was opposed to passing the crucial Lokpal legislation without a discussion.