As Parliament session came to an end and five of the six anti-graft measures being spearheaded by Gandhi failed to see the light of the day, the Congress vice-president launched a blistering attack on the Opposition. (Agencies)
"Those in the opposition have said that they are against corruption and want to fight it. But when the time came to pass the Bills against corruption, they did not support," he said. Gandhi said he had expected that on these matters, the government would get support from the Opposition.
"Frankly I believed that. I thought that they will do that. Unfortunately on the matter of corruption, which is the central issue in the country, the Opposition looked the other way," he added.
Gandhi spoke to media as he met with a group of protesters, who sought Ordinances on Grievance Redress Bill, Disability Bill and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill. A press release issued by the Lok Sansad, which spearheaded the agitation, said that Gandhi assured them full support for bringing Ordinances on these three Bills.
Addressing the protesters, Gandhi also said, "I have heard what you are saying about the Ordinance. I have already had discussions with the leaders in my party and we are going to try and see that we can manage that."
Noting that there was a talk about the possibility of taking the Ordinance route to bring in these anti-graft measures, Gandhi said he had talked to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi in this regard.
"Let us see if the Ordinance can be brought or not. But in a way, the Opposition deceived. Opposition ka dhokha hai," Gandhi said.
The Congress vice-president said he had said several times that action is more important than words and the reality was that the opposition did not extend support when it was time to act to bring anti-corruption measures.
The Bills that Gandhi was seeking to push through included Public Procurement Bill, Timely Delivery of Electronic Services and Goods, Citizens Charter Bill, a Bill dealing with Bribery of Foreign Officials and Prevention of Corruption Act (Amendment) Bill besides the Whistleblower Bill, which was passed by Parliament.
The government has termed the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill as an anti-corruption measure but since the legislation deals with corruption in judiciary, Government is unlikely to bring any Ordinance on this.
While the Whistleblowers protection Bill and the Street Vendors Bill have been passed, three more consensus Bills are pending: Grievance Redress Bill, Disability Bill and SC/ST PoA Amendment Bill. These could not be passed in the last session of the 15th Lok Sabha.
"Rahul Gandhi met with the protesters and assured them full support for Ordinances for the three remaining bills. He said the government will do its best to have ordinances notified. Gandhi said that he understood the importance and urgency of these Bills,” a release by the Lok Sansad said
"He said that the bills could not be passed in Parliament and therefore now he will push for Ordinances on these bills," the release further said.
Accusing the opposition of not agreeing to extend the Parliament session to pass pending anti-graft bills, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath also said that the government was left with no choice but to "unhappily" decide on adjourning it sine die.
To a question as to whether the government planned to take the ordinance route to enact the anti-corruption legislations, Nath said, "we will discuss the matter...., what are the views of the President.... Because the country needs the anti-corruptions legislations, which are pending."
AICC general secretary Ajay Maken also attacked BJP accusing it of blocking five out of six anti-corruption legislations in the just-concluded Parliament session. In a statement, he wondered whether BJP has scuttled the five bills under instructions from the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi who was "scared" that once these bills got passed and create an institutional framework, all his and BJP's "deeds of commission and deliberate omissions" will be exposed.
As Parliament session came to an end and five of the six anti-graft measures being spearheaded by Gandhi failed to see the light of the day, the Congress vice-president launched a blistering attack on the Opposition.