New Delhi, Dec 28: The defeat of the bill to give Constitutional status to Lokpal fuelled a blame game between Congress and BJP today with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi accusing the opposition party of going back on its commitment on this issue in which its “real face” was exposed.
The BJP hit back at the accusation by the Congress leadership, saying the Government stood exposed by not being able to mobilise the numbers required for the passage of the Constitutional amendment bill in the Lok Sabha yesterday.
“We are not here to fulfill Rahul's dream,” BJP leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said. Granting of constitutional status for the anti-corruption ombudsman was mooted by Rahul, who had said it would be a ‘game changer.'
Leading the charge against BJP after the defeat of the bill which came as a huge embarassment to the Government, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said BJP had actually committed itself to supporting Constitutional status to Lokpal in Parliament's Standing Committee deliberations.
“But yesterday, we saw their real face. The strength we wanted to give to Lokpal Bill, they did not want it and voted against it,” Gandhi told reporters.
Sharing Sonia's sentiments, Rahul targeted L K Advani and Sushma for the UPA debacle in the Lok Sabha.
“There was a lot of rhetoric by BJP for a strong Lokpal. But they did not press the button( for supporting the Constitutional amendment bill),” Rahul said, adding “ They(BJP MPs) were told by Sushma, Advani not to press the button. BJP opposed a strong Lokpal in Lok Sabha.”
BJP people gave big speeches outside Parliament, but when it came to bill in the house, they did not press the button, Rahul said while addressing a public meeting at Sisaya in Dharaura assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
Arun Jaitley, BJP leader in the Rajya Sabha, said granting constitutional status to Lokpal is of “no use' since the anti-corruption legislation was a “weak law.”.
Refuting the Congress' charge that BJP has betrayed people on Lokpal, another BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu made a counter-charge saying it is the ruling party which betrayed the people.
On giving Constitutional status to the Lokpal, Swaraj said, “If this was their general secretary Rahul Gandhi's dream, is fulfilling it the responsibility of the BJP? Should Congress not have got the numbers? It could not even muster a simple majority of 273.”
“Not only did the government fail to get the required two-thirds majority but the division of votes showed it was well below the half way mark.
But Congress has been trying to lay all the blame for failure to pass the Constitutional status bill on the BJP. Now even Sonia Gandhi is singing their tune. We have said our commitment is to a strong Lokpal but we cannot support what is patently unconstitutional,” she said.
Swaraj's party colleague Venkaiah Naidu said the UPA did not have adequate numbers. “And that is why they became a laughing stock before the nation yesterday,” he added, claiming that the whole episode has “boomeranged” on Congress.
“They should have done some homework and should have consulted allies and then would have brought such a bill in Parliament. Without doing homework they have brought it and it has boomeranged on them,” Naidu said.
Targeting the BJP, Rahul said, “Congress said it's committed to a strong Lokpal. BJP was screaming and yelling. We asked for an Independent, strong Constituional body like the Election Commission. There was a lot of rhetoric by BJP for a strong Lokpal.”
JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar described as “moral defeat” for the Congress the rejection of the Constitutional Amendment bill.
“No party has argued for giving Constitutional status to Lokpal... it was a product of Congress,” Kumar added.
CPI-M said Congress's tactic of blaming the Opposition for the defeat of the Constitutional Amendment Bill is a “flimsy excuse”.
“Either the Congress was not really interested in this (bill) or it miserably failed in its floor management. Blaming the Opposition for this defeat is a flimsy excuse,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told PTI.