Ghaziabad, Dec 30: Team Anna today sought to tear into Government on the Lokpal Bill alleging that it engineered the high drama in Rajya Sabha as it did not have the intention to set up a strong anti-corruption ombudsman.
Putting the blame squarely on government, Anna Hazare's supporters contended that Government could have passed the bill if it had accepted the three amendments—independence of CBI, selection and removal process and delinking Lokayukta—on which opposition was in agreement.
They chose not to attack opposition on its insistence that Lokayukta in states should not be brought through the Bill, though it is one of their key demands, but insisted that its passage after accepting opposition amendments would have been the first step towards setting up a strong Lokpal.
“The way the voting in Rajya Sabha was prevented shows that Government was committing fraud after fraud. They say they want to bring a strong Lokpal but they don't have the intention,” Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal told reporters here.
He said the Bill presented in the House was not only weak but also “dangerous” as the ombudsman was fully under the control of government.
In Lok Sabha, he said, 55 amendments were moved and all of them were not uselss. There were good amendments like the one demanding independence for CBI but all of them were defeated by the government “wrongly using its majority”, he said.
Noting that the entire opposition was in agreement with three amendments, Kejriwal said if there was voting, it would have been carried out as two of them—on CBI and selection and removal process—were critical.
“It would have been the beginning of a strong Lokpal,” he said while another Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan said, “now the fight is for to save democracy.”
Kejriwal alleged that Government hatched a conspiracy with Lalu Prasad and his RJD to jeopardise the bill.
“The TV channels had reported in the earlier part of the day that RJD members will create a ruckus and drag the proceedings till midnight so that the business cannot be carried out. The script of what transpired in Rajya Sabha was written outside the House. Some people just acted according to it...it is a clear case of match fixing in Parliament,” he said.
Prashant said the episode showed that the people in Government have contempt not only for people but for the entire Parliament.
“People were hired to disturb the proceedings, to tear the bill and then ensure that everybody goes home (without passing the bill,” he said.
Another Team Anna member Shanti Bhushan said there was consensus among opposition parties on three amendments.
“In that two of them were significant and if it was passed even without the provision for Lokayukta, it would have been a good beginning (towards setting up a strong Lokpal),” Shanti Bhushan said adding the Prime Minister was present in the House when democracy was “murdered” inside the House.
Team Anna also said the manner in which the government “orchestrated” the disruption of the proceedings and prevented a vote on the opposition's amendments to the government's Lokpal Bill exposed the “hollowness” of it's claim that it is committed to an effective anti corruption legislation.
“This Bill is not only ineffective but some of its provisions are a threat to democracy and would end up weakening the existing anti-corruption systems,” they said.
They said the proceedings of the last three days in Parliament have brought to the fore some critical deficiencies as it demonstrated how Indian democracy and Parliament are held hostage to the ruling party.
“We saw how the Parliament was rendered helpless by the ruling party in the last three days,” Kejriwal said.
“In Lok Sabha, the ruling coalition has a majority. The Bill presented by Government was very weak and ineffective. The Opposition presented 55 amendments to this Bill in Lok Sabha. One cannot say that all of them were irrelevant and useless amendments.
“In fact, some of these amendments were quite good like the amendments dealing with independence of CBI, independent selection process etc. However, not a single amendment presented by Opposition was accepted. Using its brute majority, Congress defeated all the amendments, not because they were bad,” he said.
“The ruling party adopted a ‘my way or high way' approach,” he alleged.
In Lok Sabha, Team Anna alleged, the government misused its majority while in Rajya Sabha, the government misused its control over parliamentary procedures.
“The government used everything in its control to avoid voting yesterday. They did the same thing on 27th August when there was a strong demand to have a voting on Parliamentary resolution. If the government would avoid voting like this, what would be left of democracy?” they alleged.
Without taking the name of Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, they alleged, “speakers were allowed to give lengthy speeches to kill time. And then taking shelter behind procedures, Parliament was adjourned sine die at midnight without voting.”
“The experience with the anti corruption campaign has shown that the present model of representative democracy needs to be improved to put in place a model of participatory democracy where people will have a direct say in law and policy making. The anti corruption campaign will need to be widened to strengthen democracy apart from putting in place an effective and strong Lokpal,” they added.