Opposition unites to demand statement from PM on Hazare (Lead)

August 16th, 2011 - 9:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) The arrest of Anna Hazare by Delhi Police Tuesday led to the opposition parties closing ranks against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and demanding a statement from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Signalling their anger at the police action, several non-UPA parties apart from the Left attended a meeting in the office of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj.

In a signal that could increase trouble for the government in the remaining part of the monsoon session, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Samajwadi Party (SP) also attended the meeting. Both RJD and SP support the government from outside.

The meeting came in the backdrop of the two houses of parliament being adjourned for the day over demand for a discussion on Hazare’s detention.

The meeting was attended by Janata Dal-United, Shiv Sena, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, and Telugu Desam Party besides Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley later accused the government of arrogance.

“There is a new idiom that the Congress party is trying to introduce in the country. It is the idiom of smugness, it is the idiom that smacks of arrogance, and it is based on the premise that political power for the Congress is immortal. That is not the reality of this politics,” he said.

Jaitley alleged that the Congress was indulging in “character assassination” of Hazare and said it would not be accepted by the people of the nation.

“I think character assassination can not be an instrument of politics. The Congress government that is perceived to be the most dishonest in history is now seeking to jail a man, whom people consider an icon of probity. We may disagree with him, but we cannot treat him in this manner. The country is not going to agree to this… Dissent is the essence of democracy,” he said.

Sushma Swaraj, who is Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, demanded that the government release Hazare and his supporters immediately.

“This government has lost its mental balance. The country is dissatisfied with the government. First it was revealed during Ramdev episode. And now again,” she said.

“It has been decided that the prime minister should make a statement in both houses of parliament on whatever is happening in the country. Nobody else,” she added.

The BJP leaders disagreed with the government’s stance that Hazare was arrested as he did not comply with the police conditions.

“You can’t have absurd conditions, which render a protest redundant. Is Chidambaram willing to impose conditions on all Congress workers’ protests all over the country,” Jaitley said.

The CPI and CPI-M said in separate statements they would hold nationwide protests Wednesday to denounce the arrest of Hazare. The two parties said the government has attacked the democratic right to conduct peaceful protest with the ban on the hunger strike and the arrest of Hazare.

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