New Delhi: Amidst scenes of high drama, the Rajya Sabha on Thursday failed to pass Lokpal Bill and was adjourned abruptly at midnight with opposition alleging that the government was running away from a vote because it was in a minority.

 

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The Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday after failed moves in 43 years, appeared jinxed throughout the day when it seemed that the government was not able to muster a simple majority required for its passage.

The problems of the ruling coalition, which has 93 members in a 243-member House, grew after one of its constituents Trinamool Congress (6) and outside supporters BSP (18), SP (6) and RJD (4) made it clear that they will vote against the Bill.

Trinamool Congress and parties like BJP and Left partiesn had moved amendments for deletion of Part III of the Bill related to appointment of Lokayukta in states. The BJP and the Left also wanted the CBI to be part of Lokpal.

On a day marked by conspiracy theories in the corridors of Parliament, the government tried to persuade the allies and outside supporters to avoid a vote which looked it was sure to lose.

And when the time for voting came, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal suddenly came up with a request to the Chair for time to consider 187 amendments moved by the MPs.

Smelling a rat in the government strategy, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said the government was running away from the House because it was in a "hopeless minority".

"A government which did not have the numbers in the House has consciously first choreagraphed a debate so that it cannot not be concluded before the 12 O' Clock," he said.

Jaitley told Bansal that they will sit the whole night to transact the bill. He said the government has "no right to continue in office even for a minute".

As uproar continued, Ansari said, "an unprecedented situation has arisen. There appears to be a desire to outshout each other. There is total impasse. The House cannot be conduted in this noise. It requires orderly proceedings.

"I am afraid the Chair has no option but to reluctantly...," Ansari said and announced the playing of national song 'Vande Mataram', which is usually played at the end of a Session before adjourning sine die.

 "The House cannot be conducted in the noise. .. that (proceedings) requires orderly proceedings," Ansari said.

After the song was played, he said "the House stands adjourned sine die."

Later, members of BJP and Left staged protest in Parliament complex for not passing Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha.

The Bill is likely to come up in the Budget session.

Immediately a blame game started with the opposition attacking the government for failure to ensure passage of the bill while the Congress party sharply criticised the BJP for it.

Jaitley said it was a "well choreographed move" by the government to create disturbances through "ally" RJD and its motives were clear as early as 5 PM.

 "The main reason is that the government had no numbers," he said, adding it was "political and moral defeat" for the government.

"This government has been thoroughly exposed. It has conspired to avoid a vote. It has no right to continue in office even for a minute," he said.

Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said as many as 187 amendments have been moved to the Bill and the government would require time to formulate its views if a "lacunae free" Lokpal was to be enacted.

Parties cry foul, BJP wants government to resign

Political parties, including UPA ally Trinamool Congress, on Thursday night cried foul after the Rajya Sabha failed to pass the Lokpal Bill terming it as a "black day" for democracy and the Opposition demanded resignation of the government for losing the "political and moral authority".

"The developments are sad, sad, sad... it was an orchestrated chaos," said Trinamool MP Derek O' Brien after the midnight drama when the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die without completion of debate on the Lokpal Bill.

Another party MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy dubbed it as a "black day for Indian democracy" and said it was taken aback by the developments.

"We wanted clauses 63 to 97 to be deleted. That is our stand on Lokayuktas," O'Brien said.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley said the events were "well orchestrated" by the government as it wanted to "run away" from voting because of lack of numbers.

"It is a political and a moral defeat for the government. A government which runs away from vote has no right to remain in power... This government has been thoroughly exposed.

It has conspired to avoid a vote. The government has lost its political authority and moral authority to rule," he said.
Noting that the Parliament is supreme, he said, "The government has succeeded in subverting the Indian Parliament on Thursday. I am sure the people of the country will not spare this government."

"The whole action was choreographed since Wednesday and speakers were made to continue the debate. The minister put up a reply. His reply could not be understood by anyone, but he also continued," Jaitley said.

He said the government had engineered disruption through its "ally" RJD, whose member Rajniti Prasad created ruckus and tore a copy of the Lokpal Bill after snatching it from Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy.

The BJP leader said that by not passing the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, the promise made to the country has been broken "Not because of the Opposition but because the government did not want a strong Lokpal."

He said, "It is highly improper for the government to remain in power."

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said, "It is a dark night for Indian democracy. Today, democracy has been disrobed in Rajya Sabha. The Prime Minister and Shri Pranab Mukherjee witnessed this as silent spectators."

She accused the Prime Minister and Mukherjee of being "party to this ugly drama" and alleged that "this conspiracy was hatched under their direction".

BSP leader Satish C Mishra termed it as a "loss of face" for the government and accused it of indulging in drama.

He said the government had no intention of passing the Bill.

"It is unprecedented. The government played the trick to avoid a sure defeat to Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha," he said, adding the people of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh will teach the Congress a lesson.

CPI leader D Raja said it was a "midnight assault" on democracy.

Expressing government's commitment to fight corruption, Bansal said, "I assure the government will consider all amendments" and "we will come to the House".

He said it was government's prerogative to decide when the Parliament Session should be convened.

He rejected the Opposition's demand for further extension of Parliament, saying any session in the New Year has to begin with the President's address.

His statement came after a 15-minute adjournment at 11.28 PM, which marked sudden disruption to the 11-hour debate. The adjournment came when several members, particularly Left parties, created uproar, wanting to know whether the proceedings would continue after midnight as the extension of the Winter Session was till only December 29.

Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy was replying to the 11-hour debate on the crucial bill when the uproar started.

"Nobody wants to listen to him. So why is he continuing," CPI (M) member Moinul Hassan said while Narayanasamy was replying.

Hassan, joined by party colleagues and members of BJP, wanted the Chairman to clarify whether the House will continue after midnight or adjourn as the extension was only till December 29.

Ansari said there was still long way to go till midnight.
    
At this, CPI (M)'s Sitaram Yechury said Narayanasamy had the capacity to continue till 12 O'clock.

There was pandemonium and Ansari adjourned the House till 11.43 PM.

Earlier, BJP, BSP and Left pleaded with the Chairman to give a ruling that the House will sit through the night and complete the business related to Lokpal.

"We are committed to fight corruption. We will sit through the night," Jaitley said.

"It is prerogative of the Chair how long the House should continue. It is not the prerogative of the government," he said.

Yechury also said the proceedings should continue beyond midnight and they were ready to sit through the night.

"If you don't have a plan, say it. There is no point in talking in vague terms," he said.

BSP leader Satish C Mishra later said "It is the prerogative of the Chairman to run the House even beyond midnight and there have been precedents. Earlier, RJD member Rajniti Prasad snatched the copy of Lokpal Bill and tore it before throwing it in the Well of the House. He was demanding that the Bill be withdrawn.

(Agencies)