New Delhi: Slamming the government over the arrest of Anna Hazare and his team, BJP-led NDA, Left and several other Opposition parties on Tuesday joined ranks and demanded a statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on "violation of democratic rights". (JPN/ Agencies)
As Hazare was arrested and sent to Tihar Jail, leaders of BJP, JD(U), Shiv Sena, CPI(M), CPI, Samajwadi Party, RJD and some other non-UPA parties held a meeting to discuss common strategy over the issue and came up with a vow to continue their agitation in the Parliament against corruption.
"It has been decided that the Prime Minister should make a statement in both Houses of the Parliament on whatever is happening in the country. Nobody else," Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said.
She said the demand for the Prime Minister's statement will be made on Wednesday and it will determine the Parliament's functioning.
Contending that action against Hazare reflected the government's "nervousness", she said the Opposition unity was not on Jan Lokpal Bill but "violation of democratic rights".
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley alleged the government was "trying to snatch people's right to protest" and said "the political leadership is trying to hide behind uniform (police)".
Amid indications that the Parliament would not be allowed to function, Jaitley said the impeachment proceedings against Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen on Wednesday will take place as per schedule at 3 PM.
Slamming the government, CPI (M) said it has "attacked the democratic right to conduct peaceful protest" and asked its party units to conduct peaceful agitation against it on Wednesday. Emerging from the meeting, senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said the arrest of Anna Hazare was "unjustified" and "we will continue to demand for Prime Minister's statement on this issue. Our fight will continue."
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta CPI echoed Raghuvansh Singh. Dasgupta had earlier suggested that all Opposition parties should boycott the Parliament for three days but it apparently did not find favour.
Condemning Hazare's arrest, JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav said, "We will not concede our ground. The Prime Minister should make a statement in the Parliament. Anna Hazare should be released and then talks should be held to find a way out."
Yadav said the government has needlessly made a big issue out of a demand for giving Hazare a place to hold his indefinite fast.
"What is the big issue in giving Hazare Jantar Mantar or Jai Prakash Narayan Park to Hazare to hold his fast? Government is responsible for creating this atmosphere" Yadav said.
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat also came down heavily on the Congress, saying Hazare's arrest was "a strong attack on democratic rights. ... I believe it also reflects the Congress party's refusal to tolerate any movement against corruption.
"One can ask why the Congress leadership is taking this decision. Clearly because their own government is steeped in corruption", she said.
Asked whether Hazare's arrest reflected an "Emergency- like situation", she said it was a "strong attack on democratic rights. ... We don't agree on several counts with Anna Hazare but we cannot tolerate such a move.
Defiance of police order by Hazare not acceptable: Govt
In a clear indication of change in strategy in tackling Anna Hazare's protest over Lokpal Bill, government on Tuesday refrained from making any personal attack on the activist but justified his arrest saying defiance of police order was not acceptable in democracy.
"This is not a pleasant task and none of us is happy trying to explain the circumstances under which certain events have taken place. It is a painful duty and we are performing it with the seriousness it deserves," Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters here.
At the same time, he strongly defended Hazare's arrest saying the action was taken by the Delhi Police after it came to a conclusion that he and his supporters would commit a "cognisable offence" by defying prohibitory orders.
Addressing the media along with HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and I&B Minister Ambika Soni, Chidambaram said that the government did make an effort to reach out to him yesterday but the meeting did not materialise.
"Yesterday, there was an attempt to meet Hazare, but that was not possible. This morning police officer met Hazare and drew his attention to his statements that he and his supporters would defy the orders and asked him what his intentions were.
"Hazare said he was proceeding to Jaiprakash Narain Park to defy the orders. At that time, police came to the conclusion that he and his supporters would commit a cognisable offence and there could be likely breach of peace and they decided to take action under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC," he said.
New Delhi: Slamming the government over the arrest of Anna Hazare and his team, BJP-led NDA, Left and several other Opposition parties on Tuesday joined ranks and demanded a statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on "violation of democratic rights".