Opposition rejects PM’s statement, demands Anna’s release (Lead)

August 17th, 2011 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday rejected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement on the arrest of activist Anna Hazare and demanded that the government release him and allow his supporters to stage their protest for a strong Lokpal bill.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the government of “arrogance of power”, the Left parties said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was suffering credibility crisis and described Hazare’s arrest as a blatant assault on democratic rights of citizens.

Rejecting the prime minister’s statement, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley demanded that the Hazare be released and the activists be given a place to stage their protest.

Hazare was arrested and subsequently released Tuesday but continues to be in Tihar Jail, refusing to move out until he was allowed to conduct his fast without any conditions.

If any rules are broken, police can take action, Jaitley said, and added the prime minister was trying to take shelter behind people in uniform.

Manmohan Singh in his statement in both houses of parliament earlier said that Delhi Police came to the conclusion that Hazare and his supporters would commit a cognisable offence and there was likelihood of a breach of peace.

Jiatley also slammed the conditions Delhi Police laid down for letting Hazare hold his protest.

“The condition for holding a protest can be that there should be no violence, not that how many people will protest, and for how long they will protest,” Jaitley said.

Accusing the government of “condoning” corruption, Jaitley said: “Right question is not who frames law, right question is: does the government have will to fight corruption? You don’t need a magic wand to fight corruption, all you need is political will.”

“Arrogance of power which has become a feature of this government is not how corruption will be fought,” he added.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat demanded the unconditional release of Hazare.

“This (prime minister’s address) adds salt on wounds inflicted by authoritarianism and undemocratic action of UPA government,” Karat said.

She said the prime minister’s remarks “add a new chapter to fairytales by the home minister (P. Chidambaram)”.

If one were to believe the statements of union ministers that it was Delhi Police that took all the decisions concerning Hazare, then “the government should be accused of the worst type of dereliction of duty”, she said.

According to Karat, the government was trying to tell people that it was wrong to protest when the Lokpal Bill was being examined by the standing committee but there were several instances when such protests had been held in similar conditions.

Pointing to the women’s reservation bill, she said protests had been held outside though it is in parliament.

She said people had every right to protest if they find a bill is “anti-poor”.

Describing Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi as “prince charming”, Karat said the ruling party was feeding news channels that it was on his instructions that the party had decided not to abuse Hazare and to release him from jail.

“But your tales and cover up is thoroughly exposed…Stop the charade. Don’t use shoulders of parliament to shoot,” she said.

Communist Party of India member D. Raja said the government suffers from a credibility loss and people trusted Hazare more than they did the government.

He said public pressure was needed for legislations to become effective.

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