Oppn refuses to play ball on Lokpal

Oppn refuses to play ball on Lokpal

Political parties have told the Congress-led UPA government to first prepare the bill before it is introduced in Parliament and then seek their views on the proposed legislation.

The government’s efforts to elicit the opinions of the political parties on various provisions of the Lokpal bill, therefore, appears to have backfired as the BJP and two Left parties have lambasted it for seeking their comments which was done through a questionnaire.

In separate and hard-hitting letters, the BJP, the CPM and the CPI lashed out at the government’s attempt, saying they will give their opinions once the bill is ready.
While the BJP said that “parliamentarians are decision makers and not suggestion givers” and questioned the setting up of the drafting committee with civil society members, the CPM said it would give its views once the government prepared the draft Lokpal legislation.

Unaware of ‘mandate’
The CPI took on the government saying “We are not aware who gave the ‘mandate’ to the joint drafting committee”.

Following its face-off with the civil society representatives over their demand to include the prime minister, the higher judiciary and the Parliamentarians under the purview of the Lokpal bill, the government decided to write to political parties and chief ministers apparently in a bid to delay the law drafting process. The Centre is said to be opposed to the three demands.

The BJP and the Left parties have made it clear that the supremacy of Parliament cannot not be compromised with.

BJP committed
In his letter to Joint Drafting Committee chairman Pranab Mukherjee, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said while the BJP was committed to the creation of an independent Lokpal and indicated that the government had sought its opinion only because of divergence of opinion in the drafting committee. “Expecting political parties to give their views to a drafting committee comprising civil society representatives for acceptance or otherwise would be upsetting constitutional propriety where parties, parliamentarians and Parliament have the last word. They are the decision-makers and not suggestion givers,” Gadkari said.

Questioning the government’s decision to leave out representatives of political parties from being members on the drafting committee, Gadkari’s letter said: “However, though not having felt the necessity of ever involving political parties, particularly those in Opposition in this entire debate, you have now considered it expedient that they must give their views in a period of less than one week on issues of divergence between the ministers and civil society representatives”.

The BJP stand was that “propriety demands that various stakeholders and interested groups give their opinions to parties, MPs and eventually to Parliament so that they can be factored when we formulate our stand on the bill.”

The principal opposition party said that “expecting political parties to give their views to a drafting committee comprising civil society representatives for acceptance or otherwise would be upsetting the constitutional propriety where parties, parliamentarians and the Parliament have the last word. They are the decision makers and not suggestion givers”.

Flatly refusing to enlist their comments sought by the government, the Left parties have asked the Centre to first draft the Lokpal bill to enable them to furnish their views.

CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat said in his letter to Mukherjee that “Our party has definite views on the nature and scope of the Lokpal authority to be set-up. The issues that need to be considered are not necessarily confined to the six questions which you have posed to be answered in yes or no terms.”

Asking the government to first draft the bill, Karat said: “You can seek our views before it is presented to Parliament. If that is not possible, then we shall certainly express our views on the draft through parliamentary procedures”.

Criticising the government for the “casual manner” in which it sought views of political parties “on such an important matter”, CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said: “We are not aware who gave the ‘mandate’ to the joint drafting committee.

“At no stage were the political parties involved or ever consulted during the entire process of constituting the committee. They were deliberately ignored”.

Bardhan said while the CPI was indeed keen on an effective Lokpal bill the party “insists that such a draft should be brought in the forthcoming monsoon session of Parliament. There can be no further delay”.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)