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Govt all alone as opposition sides with Anna on Lokpal

The government has questioned leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley participating in a public debate on the Lokpal Bill at Anna Hazare's fast venue at Jantar Mantar even as the Bharatiya Janata Party defended him. Left and Right rally around Anna, want CBI free of govt | Centre to push key anti-graft legislations | Hazare's fasts 10th top story on Time

delhi Updated: Dec 12, 2011 12:29 IST

As Parliament reconvenes on Monday, it has a tough task at hand as the opposition parties have rejected the government version of Lokpal and supported some of the key demands by the Team Anna for a stronger ombudsman.

Only nine working days are left for the winter session of Parliament and the JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav has said that, if needed, the session should be extended or a special session be called for a thorough debate on Lokpal.

After criticism by the opposition parties and the Team Anna on the issue of inclusion of the PM under the purview of Lokpal, the government has backed the Prime Minister and said on Sunday that Manmohan Singh wants the office of prime minister under the ambit of Lokpal.

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is keen that the office of the PM is included under the purview of Lokpal," Union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said on Sunday.

The parliamentary affairs minister said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh upholds principles of integrity in public life.

Referring to the report of Parliament's Standing Committee on Lokpal bill, he said all concerns would be addressed.

"Change in bill will be done in a harmonious manner," he said.

On protests by some parties on Lokpal bill, he said, "They just want to show they are against corruption. Their (political parties) double standards are not acceptable."

He also said there was need to bring amendments in the existing laws on corruption.

The government has questioned leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley participating in a public debate on the Lokpal bill at Anna Hazare's fast venue at Jantar Mantar even as his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) defended him.

Terming the fast "premature", government spokesperson Ashwani Kumar questioned Jaitley's participation in the debate.

"As far as Mr Arun Jaitley's going there is concerned, as the leader of his party in Rajya Sabha, he should have debated it (Lokpal bill) in parliament," Ashwani Kumar said.

"A public debate is in a way preempting and prejudging the issue which is really in contempt of parliament. I think these are matters which should be left to parliament," he said.

Defending Jaitley, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said: “Political parties expressing their opinion on an important issue like Lokpal is utilising democracy. Hence, Jaitley went there (debate).”

“A debate anywhere is normal as Lokpal is an issue of national concern,” she said, adding “it should not be confined to parliament”.

“Parliament will do whatever it has to do,” said Sitharaman.

Speaking during the debate Jaitley stressed "prime minister should be brought under the Lokpal".

The Congress on Sunday rejected Anna Hazare's token fast for a strong anti-corruption Lokpal bill, terming it "preemptive" and "premature" and an "insult to parliament".

“I have no hesitation in saying that Anna is insulting parliament," said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi.

"The Lokpal bill report has been submitted. There will be debate and decision will be taken. Laws cannot be made at Jantar Mantar," he said.

Another party leader, Sanjay Nirupam, said Team Anna was trying to find ways to "bother" the Congress.

"They are finding ways to bother the Congress and the government, but the Congress is not bothered," Nirupam said on a TV channel.

Hazare was on a one-day token fast at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital. The activists had also invited political representatives for a debate on the Lokpal bill which was not attended by the Congress.

First Published: Dec 12, 2011 09:39 IST