Day after Lokpal bill failure, battlelines drawn (Afternoon Lead)

December 30th, 2011 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) The morning after was one of vitriol and bitterness with the BJP Friday asking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to quit after the Lokpal bill failed to get past the Rajya Sabha and the government hitting back to say the opposition had orchestrated the “drama” in the house.

A day after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die amid chaos Thursday midnight without putting to vote the bill for an anti-graft institution of an ombudsman, the battlelines were drawn on an issue that has dominated the discourse for much of the year.

The long-discussed Lokpal bill was put in cold storage and, as common people speculated on the political games behind it, politicians traded charges in the surcharged atmosphere ahead of the forthcoming assembly polls in five states.

“The government was defeated in the Lok Sabha on the constitutional amendment bill and they ran away from voting in the Rajya Sabha. UPA (United Progressive Alliance) was defeated in both the houses and has no right to retain power. The prime minister should tender his resignation, taking moral responsibility,” said BJP president Nitin Gadkari.

According to Gadkari, the government was not ready to pass the Lokpal bill, passed in the Lok Sabha three days ago, and had planned it in a way to avoid voting. “It is unfortunate that everything happened in front of the prime minister and the government has made fun of parliament.

“We will hold a countrywide protest against the UPA government and will press for a strong Lokpal bill.”

The government, which said that the bill would come up in the budget session, was equally vehement.

Labelling as “bogus” the BJP’s allegation that the government choreographed the entire debate, Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy said: “Right from the beginning, the BJP’s intention was to see that the bill is not passed in parliament … they want to keep it in limbo. It was a BJP-orchestrated drama.”

His colleague, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, added that the BJP’s amendments to the Lokpal bill were meant to ensure that it was not passed.

“BJP did this to play politics and they changed their stand as they said something in Lok Sabha and something else in the Rajya Sabha,” he said.

He said that there were 187 amendments - brought by various parties, including UPA ally Trinamool Congress and the BJP - to the bill and some of them were contradictory and could not be accommodated.

“My allegation is that they brought large number of amendments only to see that bill is not passed. Had we accepted all of them we would have led to a situation where parliament would have been rendered a laughing stock in the eyes of the people,” he said.

Added Law Minister Salman Khurshid: “They (opposition) were so arrogant, believing they had the majority and would do whatever they wanted. They should have acted more responsibly and wisely.”

As the government and the main opposition party battled it out, the man who tore up the copy of the bill Thursday night defended his action.

Justifying his act that stunned fellow MPs and those watching the daylong debate on television, Rajniti Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal said it was a “bad” piece of legislation and what he did what was right.

He said his was a “spontaneous” reaction.

Team Anna, which was instrumental in putting forward the demand for an anti-graft institution, said the onus was on the government to get it cleared.

“The onus is on the government and they should have told the parliament members that we (all) are bound by the resolution passed by the house and the only thing is that we have to work on the mechanics,” Team Anna member Kiran Bedi told reporters here.

She said they would continue to campaign for a strong and effective Lokpal.

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