New Delhi, Dec 28: Minutes after the Lok Sabha on Tuesday night rejected the 116th Constitutional Amendment Bill providing statutory powers to Lokpal, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha demanded the Prime Minister's resignation.
Sinha said, the Prime Minister has lost the moral authority to continue in office after the defeat of the constitutional amendment bill.
"Say bye, Not aye", Sinha told the treasury benches, as ruling party members sat glum faced as the Speaker announced that the clauses to the Constitutional Amendment Bill stood negatived.
Earlier, in the evening, while participating in the debate Yashwant Sinha had descried the Prime Minister's intervention as his "farewell speech" inviting acerbic comments from the Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee.
Sinha's observation during the debate on the Lokpal Bill in the Lower House was countered a few hours later by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who sarcastically told opposition BJP not to be impatient for power.
Sinha during the course of his speech referred to Prime Minister's intervention and said he had listed various achievements of his government as if it was his “farewell speech.”.
Replying to the debate, Mukherjee, Leader of the House, strongly defended the Prime Minister and took a jibe at Sinha, a former Finance Minister.
“I am sorry I did not expect it from Mr Yashwant Sinha that he will say it is a farewell speech.
Why are you in a hurry to come the Treasury Benches Mr Sinha? Why don't you wait for another two-and-a-half years more or two years and four months to occupy these (ruling) benches, “ Mukherjee said. The present term of the Lok Sabha ends in mid-2014.
The exchange of barbs spilled over even after the conclusion of Pranab's spirited reply.
Sinha got up and sought to justify why he had described the Prime Minister's speech as a farewell speech.
He claimed that the buzz in the Central Hall of Parliament was that the Prime Minister was on his way out and that Pranab will be stepping into his shoes.
Pranab did not allow the matter to rest there and asked Sinha “Of all persons me”.
Yashwant Sinha noted that the government could not muster even simple majority of 273 votes in favour as it managed only 250 votes on the crucial legislation.
“Rahul Gandhi's dream has been shattered. This shows the monumental inefficiency of this government. I had said during my speech that Prime Minister spoke as if he was making his farewell speech. If any morality left is left in them, they should quit,” Sinha said.
On the attack by Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee for the defeat of the bill, he said he was indulging in politics.
Sinha said it was the government's responsibility to ensure the requisite numbers in the House and not that of the Opposition.
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the government should “look into the mirror” as it could not mobilise the required strength for the Constitution Amendment Bill. He said the Lokpal was no more a Lokpal “but only its caricature”.
Minister of State for DoPT V Narayanasamy, who had moved the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, said, “We will bring the Bill to Rajya Sabha.
We will try hard for its passage there despite knowing that we don't have a majority.” BJP leader Gopinath Munde also demanded that the UPA government should quit on moral grounds as they “miserably failed” to garner the requisite support.
Reacting to the charges, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi trained guns on the BJP for the defeat of the bill, saying “a good idea ought not to have been rejected only for political reasons”.
“How can those who have rejected the Bill justify their conduct in light of the need for a Lokpal withn an enhanced status,” he said.
Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee blamed the CPI-M and other Left parties for “colluding with the BJP” to defeat the legislation.
Union Minister Kapil Sibal said the BJP has “shown its true colour. They never wanted any law to fight corruption”. “The Opposition is a stumbling block and they will pay for it,” he said.
Sibal's Cabinet colleague Salman Khurshid said BJP “betrayed us”..
“We have achieved in getting a Lokpal. We had promised a Lokpal and the Lokpal Bill has been passed. A statutory Lokpal, at least, has been established,” Khurshid said.
The constitutional status the UPA government wanted to give, could not be given, he said.
“Why don't you ask the BJP who did not let us do so. We had the majority and that is why the Lokpal Bill got passed.” Reacting to Congress attacks against the Opposition, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said for the UPA to have got the Constitution Amendment Bill passed, they required support of 273 members.
“But the UPA's strength stands at 275.” “So it is clear that they could not mobilise their own support base, with the Trinamool Congress also not backing them fully.
“Either the Congress was not really interested in this or it miserably failed in its floor management. Blaming the Opposition for this defeat is a flimsy excuse,” Yechury said.