Lok Sabha adjourned after uproar over lokpal, Lalu demands quota for minorities
Lok Sabha was adjourned today after an uproar over the lokpal bill. United Progressive Alliance's outside supporter Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav protested against the anti-corruption bill and demanded reservation for minorities. Yadav said his party won't allow the bill in its present form at any cost.Lokpal bill best possible: govt | First look at the anti-graft watchdog | Lokpal decodeddelhi Updated: Dec 22, 2011 13:31 IST
Lok Sabha was adjourned on Thursday after an uproar over the lokpal bill. United Progressive Alliance's outside supporter Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav protested against the anti-corruption bill and demanded reservation for minorities.
"We won't allow this bill in its present form at any cost. There has to be quota for minorities in the lokpal. They have succumbed to the pressure from the BJP and the RSS and removed the provision for minority quota," Yadav told reporters.
The draft was sealed late on Wednesday evening after the government removed minorities from the list of categories that will get 50% representation in the lokpal panel, as the Constitution did not allow reservation on the basis of religion.
The bill, to be taken up for discussion and passing on December 27, 28 and 29, will be tabled for the second time this year and the 10th time in 43 years. Proposing the creation of both the lokpal in the Centre and lokayuktas in states, it will replace the one that was tabled on August 4.
What's more, the government is likely to move another bill to give the watchdog a constitutional status. On Wednesday, Gandhi vowed to fight for bill. At the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), she also mentioned the women's reservation issue in the same breath.
Gandhi attacked the Opposition for its "obstructionist tactics" and also the critics – Anna Hazare and his team – for spreading "deliberate and malicious misinformation" against the government.
But Hazare continued his attack on the government for keeping the CBI out of the lokpal's jurisdiction.
"The government is cheating the people by bringing a weak bill to save corrupt politicians," he said in his native village in Maharashtra, Ralegan Siddhi.
The Opposition, meanwhile, appeared divided on the issue. The BJP made it clear that it would move amendments to the official bill in case it did not address the demand for an independent CBI.
A non-committal BJP played safe a day before the introduction of the bill and kept its cards close to its chest and is waiting for the bill's formal circulation.
Refusing to react to media reports, party leaders said they will move amendments after the bill's introduction depending on whether its language digresses from the party's dissent note submitted to the parliamentary panel on Lokpal.
"We will move amendments if the bill does not take account of the points we made. But since the bill is expected to be introduced on Thursday morning, the amendments will be post-introduction," Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told reporters.
On Tuesday night, party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar had reacted to reports on the bill calling it a betrayal.
The party's silence on Wednesday fuelled speculation that the government had won its confidence. But Swaraj said there were no discussion with the government on the bill's contents.
In their dissent note, BJP had suggested splitting the CBI's investigative and prosecuting wings, with the director of prosecution to be appointed by a collegium comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the lokpal chairperson, rather than being an officer on deputation from the law ministry.
Prosecutors, the MPs said, should independently appraise the evidence rather than blindly follow on the probe wing.
The BJP, unlike Team Anna, had made no demand for merging the CBI with the Lokpal, only insisting on its autonomy.
The real opposition to the bill, however, came from BJP-ally Shiv Sena, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) voiced its opposition to the proposed legislation saying it will lead to "policing of MPs".
SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad made suo motto statements in Lok Sabha accusing the government of sidestepping their suggestions at the all party meeting.
Yadav, who first raised the issue, said the government was handing over the powers of the executive to the police under influence of one man (Anna Hazare).