Indicating that ally Trinamool Congress’ demand for total deletion of provisions relating to Lokayukta in the lokpal bill may not be easy to meet, home minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said the government may, however, accept one or two of its amendments.
“We were taken by surprise (by Trinamool). We thought we had convinced them after redrafting a provision,” Chidambaram told a press conference in New Delhi.
He, however, put the onus of the lokpal bill fiasco on the BJP. They used the “ingenious device” of introducing 187 amendments in the Rajya Sabha and “scuttled” the bill, he said. This, he explained, left the government with “the only prudent course to let the debate remain inconclusive and take it to the budget session”.
As far as the amendments put by the BJP and other parties are concerned, the government will have a re-look at the amendments and classify them seeing what is acceptable.
“In Lok Sabha, they (BJP) defeated the constitutional amendment bill. If they could muster more support they would have defeated the lokpal bill itself. In the Rajya Sabha 187 amendments were introduced … with the last placed at 6pm. Can anyone make sense of this?” he questioned.
The move of the BJP, he said, left the Congress with two choices — forcibly accept the amendments, which would have changed the character of the bill, or save the bill.
“Therefore, the only prudent course open to the government was to let the debate remain inconclusive, take it to the budget session, during which we hope that every party will reflect on its position,” he added.
He also said the popular notion that extending a day in Rajya Sabha could have cleared the bill, was flawed. “Accepting even one amendment meant that the matter needs to go back to the Lok Sabha and it had already adjourned at 1pm on the day sine die.”
On Anna Hazare
Reacting to the no-show at the Anna Hazare rally in the city earlier this week, Chidambaram said, “People are beginning to realise that while civil society has a right to raise its voice and raise the conscience of political parties, law making should be left to elected representatives.”