New Delhi, Aug 17: With Anna Hazare's arrest creating a storm, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Parliament that the civil activist was trying to “impose” his version of Lokpal Bill and his “totally misconceived” path was fraught with “dangerous consequences” for Parliamentary democracy.
Amid an Opposition onslaught over handling of Hazare issue, Singh defended the arrest of the activist and his six associates, saying it was undertaken because of apprehension of breach of peace although the government acknowledges the right of citizens to hold peaceful protests, permission for which can be given with “appropriate conditions”.
Bowing to demands for a statement, Singh performed the “painful duty” of reporting to Parliament on events related to Hazare's arrest but his contention was rejected with Opposition members accusing the government of being “arrogant” and “intolerant” and equating its “repressive” action with Emergency and British rule.
Making identical statements in both Houses, he said the government does not seek any “confrontation” with any section of the society but it has the “bounden duty” to maintain peace and tranquility” when some sections “deliberately challenge the authority of government and prerogative of Parliament.”
Amid repeated jeers and chants of ‘shame shame', he said, “Hazare may be inspired by high ideals in his campaign to set up a strong and effective Lokpal. However, the path that he has chosen to impose his draft of a bill upon Parliament is totally misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our Parliamentary democracy.”
Replying to a debate that followed Singh's statement in Lok Sabha, Home Minister P Chidambaram insisted that the government had done no wrong in dealing with Hazare and made it clear that his version of Lokpal Bill was unacceptable.
Chidambaram asserted that making laws was the sovereign right of Parliament although the views of civil society could be taken on board.
He said “respected” Hazare has the “undoubted right” to protest “as long as he wants” but subject to certain conditions and hoped he would do so.
The government's defence came even as BJP, Samajwadi Party, AIADMK, CPI(M), CPI, JD(U), BSP, TDP and BJD were not satisfied with Singh's contention and targetted the government over dealing with Hazare's plan to go on fast-unto-death.
Most of the Opposition parties alleged that the government was arrogant and intolerant and equated its “unconstitutional” actions with Emergency and British rule.
DMK, RJD and LJP, however, sang the government's tune.
Singh appealed to all political parties to ensure that the government and its processes and Parliament and its processes function smoothly and effectively.
While giving details of the sequence of events that led to civil activist's arrest and subsequent release, he said Hazare and his associates were denied permission by Delhi Police to hold fast as they declined to accept the conditions under which permission is granted.
Insisting that “the issue” between the government and Hazare is “not one of different attitudes to fighting corruption”, he said the civil society activists “must allow” the elected representatives of the people in Parliament to do the job that they were elected for.
“With respect to the events of yesterday, I will only say that a functional democracy must allow multiple voices to be heard. But differences of opinion must be resolved through dialogue and consensus. Those who believe that their voice and their voice alone represents the will of 1.2 billion people should reflect deeply on that position,” he said. PTI