New Delhi: The Opposition parties came down heavily on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government for bring in a Lokpal Bill which is "weak", "ineffective" and "unconstitutional" during the debate in the Rajya Sabha and demanded several amendments in the legislation to give it more power.
The attack on the UPA was led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and supported by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Communist Party of India-Marxist all of which questioned the Government's intention in creating a Lokpal that would be pliable and under its control.
UPA's counter attack was marshalled by Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi who refuted the charges levelled by BJP MP and Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and accused his party of trying to score brownie points and not being serious about passing the Lokpal Bill.
While Jaitley launched a scathing attack on the Congress-led UPA pointing out that several of its ministers were in jail after being accused of being involved in corruption cases involving several lakh crore rupees, Singhvi pointed out that the BJP was not willing to act against scams in states ruled by it, but was only interested in pointing fingers at the Centre.
CPI(M) MP Sitaram Yechury also pitched for a strong Lokpal, but warned the Government to keep the spirit of the Constitution in mind while framing the law. He asked the government to accept the amendments proposed by the Opposition to make a stronger anti-corruption body.
"Enact an effective Lokpal. This Bill is against the spirit of Constitution. Federal content of the Bill is questionable," the senior Left party leader said. "Without the states there is no India. If you are making a law which is against the states, it is against the country," he said.
BSP member SC Mishra also criticised the bill for keeping CBI under government control and said the agency is used to settle political scores. He claimed that cases against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP supremo Mayawati were an example of such misuse.
Mishra appeared to attack Rahul Gandhi when he said that a Congress leader goes to Uttar Pradesh and says that "we (Centre) have sent money...Is it your (Centre's) property? It is our money."
He said the reservation for minorities in the Lokpal bench and search committee was done under pressure as the Congress treats minorities only as "vote-minting machine".
During the debate, which saw exchange of barbs between Jaitley and Singhvi, the Congress member rejected opposition's stand on reservation, saying the bill does not have any provision for quota and only talks about ensuring representation from diverse sections of the society.
The BJP leader Arun Jaitley who initiated the debate on the Lokpal bill in the house, said that the government has introduced an absurd and complicated Bill. "Government controls the selection and appointment of Lokpal. It also controls both appointment and removal of Lokpal. Under the provisions, enquiry against the Prime Minister is impossible," he said.
Yechury said his party has four major objections to the bill including setting up of Lokayukta in states, investigation agency and inclusion of corporates and
foreign-funded NGOs under the new proposed anti corruption body.
When Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy said the opposition leaders were saying different things in Parliament and at Anna Hazare's meeting, Yechury said his party did not believe in changing stances.
"We have not raised the issue of your ministers sitting in yoga posture with a saffron robed guru and you should not say such things," he said, in an apparent reference to Yoga Guru Ramdev.
Without naming Trinamool Congress, the CPI-M leader took a dig at the party saying that certain parties in the Government were now opposing some clauses of the bill. "It would have been better if they had taken up this in the Cabinet...this situation would not have arisen," he said.