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Oppn demands recall of Lokpal Bill, introduction of new draft

The Opposition today asked the government to withdraw the "Sarkari" Lokpal Bill and introduce a new draft with provisions of the Jan Lokpal bill of Team Anna.

delhi Updated: Aug 24, 2011 20:46 IST

The Opposition on Wednesday pilloried the government, saying it has lost the moral battle against Anna Hazare with introduction of the "Sarkari" Lokpal Bill, but members across the political spectrum were one in asserting the supremacy of Parliament.

The tirade against the government was led by BJP in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, which said there was anguish among people on widespread corruption in the country.

The party said while most of the issues and the provisions in the Hazare's Jan Lokpal Bill can be made compatible with Constitution, "will of Parliament will prevail" in case there were areas of disagreement.

Concerned over the public anger on corruption manifested by the agitation of Hazare followers, both the Houses took up short duration discussion on the issue. Both BJP and the Left demanded a stronger Lokpal Bill.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj demanded the government should take back its Lokpal bill and introduce a new draft incorporating provisions of the Jan Lokpal bill of Team Anna.

Emerging from an all-party meeting, called by the government to evolve consensual approach on the Lokpal, the BJP leader said her party told the government it should have two aims at this point in time -- to present a strong and effective Lokpal bill and to persuade activist Anna Hazare to end his nine-day fast.

"In order to find solutions in a difficult circumstance, sometimes the processes can be overlooked. The government should take back its Lokpal bill and bring in a new draft bill keeping in mind the Jan Lokpal bill," Sushma Swaraj told reporters adding, "There has to be a national consensus on the Lokpal bill."

She also appealed to Hazare to end his fast.

Initiating the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said the government was acting like a child in handling civil society. "Enormity of protests is proportionate to anger and the enormity of anger is proportionate to the corruption," he said chiding the government for legislating in "haste and anger".

He said the government has lost the moral battle as it wanted to control appointment of the Lokpal. If still there is no agreement, the "will of Parliament will prevail," he said. However, most of the proposals of the civil society can be made "compatible with the Constitution". He asked the government to have a "serious relook" at its Bill which seeks to set up a "Sarkari Lokpal".

In the Lok Sabha, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi dubbed UPA coalition as the "government of the corrupt, by the corrupt and for the corrupt", alleging that the government was "born out of sin" of the cash-for-vote scam of 2008.

Jaitley said with trust deficit with the civil society, government and the Prime Minister are helpless in handling the situation. "Can we blame the people? ... at the end of the day, public opinion is fierce and fair."

"They have a right to protest and crusade, we must not curtail their right nor should we say like a child we will not talk to you," he remarked.

Noting that the supremacy of Parliament should not be undermined, NDA Convenor Sharad Yadav said strong laws like Lokpal should be made but within the Constitutional framework. He said former CWG Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi was in jail after the Opposition raised the issue of corruption.

"Lok Sabha or state assembly are the best places to expose the corrupt," the JD-U chief said. While welcoming the movement by the civil society against corruption, he said strong laws should be made but within the Constitutional framework provided by the likes of Ambedkar.

Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said the situation on roads in view of Hazare's agitation was a reflection of disgust among people against corruption. He demanded that the government should bring a strong and effective Lokpal Bill to check corruption.

However, the Opposition and the government were one in asserting supremacy of Parliament.

Senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi admitted that the UPA was moving away from ground realities and the government has committed "mistakes" on demand for JPC in 2G scam and inclusion of the Prime Minister within the Lokpal's purview.

Minister of state for parliamentary affairs V Narayanasamy and commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said while people have right to dissent, the Constitution cannot be subverted.

(with PTI and IANS inputs)

First Published: Aug 24, 2011 20:20 IST