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No Lokayukta in Uttarakhand is mockery of govt talk of zero tolerance to graft: Congress

Last day of budget session witnessed heated exchange between Opposition and treasury benches over long pending Lokayukyta Bill

dehradun Updated: Mar 26, 2018 22:19 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Lokayukta,Anti-graft law
State finance minister Prakash pant addresses media in Gairsain.(HtTPhoto)

The sixth and the last day of the Uttarakhand assembly’s budget session on Monday witnessed noisy scenes as Congress and the ruling BJP indulged in a blame game over long pending Lokayukta Bill. While Congress demanded a debate, the BJP accused it of playing politics over the proposed anti-graft law.

Soon after the House assembled for the day, state Congress chief Pritam Singh demanded a debate on the Lokayukta Bill under rule 310. Speaker Prem Chand Aggarawal, however, said he would permit a debate only under rule 58.

Singh, however, stuck to his demand “It’s (Lokayukta Bill) an issue of great public importance. We therefore demand that the Chair allow a debate under the rule 310,” he said. Supporting his demand, Leader of Opposition Indira Hridayesh said, “We will not let the Question Hour start until a debate on the proposed law is allowed under the rule 310.”

Meanwhile, the Congress legislators holding placards, trooped to the well of the House raising slogans. Hridayesh said the BJP, in its vision document for development released ahead of the 2017 assembly polls, had clearly stated that the Lokayukta law would be enacted within 100 days of coming to power. “Later, the assembly’s select committee made its recommendations for the anti-graft law, after which it had been duly tabled in the assembly. The government therefore must allow a debate on the Lokayukta law under rule 310 and also make an announcement on the floor of the House that it would soon be enacted.”

Cabinet minister Harak Singh Rawat, meanwhile, rose from his chair and dubbed the Congress as a party of thieves. Hridayesh retorted by saying that the Congress was a party whose leaders made innumerable sacrifices during India’s Independence struggle. “Let the government make a clarification on the floor of the House that it will enact the anti-graft law,” she said. Hridayesh hit out at chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat saying that on one hand he “keeps issuing statements about his government’s zero tolerance for corruption and on the other fights shy of enacting the anti-graft law.”

Rebutting the allegations, finance minister Prakash Pant accused the previous Congress government of keeping the Lokayukta Bill in abeyance. “The BJP government had enacted the anti-graft law in 2011, in which it had been clearly stipulated that it would be enforced within the next 180 days,” he said.

Pant alleged that the Congress government got the Lokayukta law amended, which had been duly ratified by the President of India. Harak Singh Rawat waded in and again dubbed the Congress as a party of thieves. “Later, the (Congress) government put the anti-graft law on the abeyance,” he alleged.

His statement added fuel to fire with the Opposition members constantly shouting slogans while sitting in the well. Meanwhile, marshals surrounded the irate opposition members. As the din continued the Speaker adjourned the House for 30 minutes at around 11am. This was extended by 20 minutes.

Earlier, the BJP members alleged that the Congress, when it was in power, failed to get the Lokayukta Bill enacted in the House.

When the House again met at around 12:30pm, the Opposition members again rushed into the well holding placards with pro-Lokayukta and anti-government slogans. However, House proceedings went on despite the Opposition members repeatedly raising slogans in favour of the anti-graft law.

First Published: Mar 26, 2018 22:19 IST