New Delhi: Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj on Saturday tore into Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's views on the Lokpal, saying he was dictating the party's stand on the anti-corruption legislation to the Manmohan Singh government. (Agencies)
Sushma Swaraj said Rahul Gandhi's five-page statement in the house during zero hour on Friday had made it clear that the Congress party did not approve of the government's decisions in response to Anna Hazare's protest.
“Was Rahul Gandhi making a zero hour intervention in the house or outlining his party's stand to the government? Was he addressing the nation or was he making an intervention?” Sushma Swaraj said.
She also noted that Speaker Meira Kumar had permitted him to make a statement for 15 minutes while other members have to give a notice and get barely three minutes to raise issues of importance.
She said that Gandhi's statement had overturned the 'statesmanship shown by the Prime Minister in the house a day before'.
“Now I know why this government has dragged its feet from the assurances it gave to have a debate in the house under a rule that entailed voting and tried to take the back route entry through a private member's resolution,” she said, referring to a debate in the house on the basis of Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit's resolution in the Lok Sabha that was curtailed after opposition protest.
On Friday, Gandhi said a Lokpal bill could not alone end corruption and suggested an autonomous Lokpal on the lines of the Election Commission.
Jaitley recalls man who coined 'Lokpal'
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley recalled that it was LN Singhvi who coined the term 'Lokpal', and pointed out that his son Abhishek Singhvi now heads the parliamentary committee seeing the Lokpal bill.
As the Parliament debated the Lokpal bill, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said the term 'Lokpal' was added in Hindi vocabulary by the 'senior Singhvi'.
“Coincidently on 3rd April 1963, then an independent young member of Lok Sabha, LN Singhvi in course of participation in a debate on having ombudsman in India, attempted to find out what Indian equivalent was and added the term Lokpal and Lokayukta to our dictionary,” Jailtey said.
“So Lokpal was added to our Hindi vocabulary by Singhvi, Now it is a coincidence that his very distinguished son Abhishek Manu Singhvi now has to prepare the final draft of the bill and I am sure that he will keep in mind the great heritage, not only personnel but also of the concept.”
The massive support for Anna Hazare is a 'loud and clear' message that people are unhappy with the present dispensation, opposition leader Arun Jaitley said on Saturday. As the Rajya Sabha took up the debate on the Lokpal bill, Jaitley said: 'The message is loud and clear, people are not ready to accept the present status quo.
Naveen appeals Hazare to end fast
On the other hand, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appealed the Gandhian to end the 12-day long fast.
"I appeal Sri Anna Hazareji to break the fast now. His health is a great concern for all of us," Patnaik told reporters adding that his party (BJD) would like a strong Lokpal to be in place to fight corruption.
Stating that his government had been fighting against corruption in the state level, Patnaik said Anna Hazare's agitation would help to eradicate the menace.
Meanwhile, protests in different parts of the state continued their fast, sit-in supporting Hazare's campaign. People from different walks of life comprising students, lawyers, women and even children came to the streets and expressed their support to Hazare's agitation.
BJP supports Team Anna on 3 issues
The BJP said it found considerable merit in three contentious issues raised by Team Anna, including covering the entire bureaucracy and Citizens' Charter for public grievances under Lokpal and favoured Lokayuktas in the states.
However, it said inclusion of the Prime Minister under Lokpal should be with the exception of certain areas like national security.
These views were forcefully expressed by Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha during debate on the Lokpal issue in the House.
Besides, the party was against the phone-tapping powers to be given to any institution, except in matters of national security. Jaitley said it was conveyed to Team Anna when they
met the party leaders.
Jaitley found "greater merit" in having a Citizens' Charter for redressal of grievances of the common man. He said several state governments have already started work in this
On the demand of the Anna Hazare-led civil society for having the entire bureaucracy under the Lokpal, he said there is considerable merit in it. "All public servants must be made
accountable... When we are including the Prime Minister (in the Lokpal)..."
Responding to a specific enquiry by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee whether there can be a central law for Lokayuktas in the states, Jaitley, an eminent lawyer, said there can be enabling laws. While there is merit in this, Lokayuktas should not be appointed by the Centre.
Jaitley said, "We have heard some not-so-complimentary statements against MPs" and urged members to show maturity without getting provoked.
Dikshit supports Anna's key demands
While giving in, Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit expressed his support to Anna Hazare's three key demands related to a powerful anti-corruption Lokpal bill. Dikshit said he was in 'complete' unison with Hazare's team on its demand for having Lokayuktas in states, framing Citizen's Charters for all government departments and including the lower bureaucracy in the ambit of Lokpal.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, he suggested that the central government can send a model Lokpal bill to states so that they create their Lokpals.
On framing Citizen's Charter, he said the government was trying to include this also in the anti-corruption mechanism.
On bringing the lower bureaucracy under the ambit of the watchdog, Dikshit said this was important as this where the common man connects with the government
End fast by 6 pm, insists Ravi Shankar
Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar urged Anna Hazare to positively end his hunger strike by 6 in the evening. “Sri Sri insists that Anna breaks his fast at any cost before 6 pm on Saturday, whether there is a (parliament) resolution (on Lokpal bill) or not,” he said in a statement here.
“Let the agitation continue, but not the fast,” he added.
I refuse to tweet about Anna: Omar
On contrary, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is back on Twitter, refusing to write about the man who has held the government hostage on the issue of corruption -- Anna Hazare. 'Since nothing is happening in the world other than Anna & I refuse to tweet about Anna ergo I can't tweet about anything :-),' the young chief minister posted on the micro-blogging website.
Taking a dig at Team Anna member and former top cop Kiran Bedi and her antics on stage at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan on Friday, Abdullah posted: “I'm sorry but I have to ask just what the hell was Kiran Bedi doing on stage? Did she really think she helped her cause?”
Abdullah, often known to air his views on the virtual world, did not post even a single comment from Aug 19 to Aug 25.
New Delhi: Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj on Saturday tore into Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's views on the Lokpal, saying he was dictating the party's stand on the anti-corruption legislation to the Manmohan Singh government.