New Delhi, August 17: The Bharatiya Janata Party is fully supporting the Anna Hazare team on its right to protest peacefully, but has categorically rejected its main demand that the team's Jan Lokpal Bill be introduced in Parliament rather than the government's Lokpal Bill.
Simultaneously, the BJP launched its own agitations country-wide to make the most of the interest generated in Hazare's campaign.
Jaitley said “dissent was the essence of democracy” and the BJP was supporting Mr. Hazare on this limited point. But, “the last word on any Bill is that of Parliament [not civil society]. However, citizens have a right to protest” and express their different views.
A similar stand was taken by BJP president Nitin Gadkari who, at a separate news conference, categorically stated that he did not agree with Team Anna on its demand that their Jan Lokpal Bill should have been presented to Parliament by the government rather than the Cabinet-approved Bill.
“It is the constitutional right of the ruling party to place its Bill before Parliament and then it is the right of all political parties to give their views and for Parliament to pass the bill,” Mr. Gadkari said.
Earlier, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Jaitley did not reply when asked why the BJP's Kalyan Singh government in Uttar Pradesh refused permission to the former Prime Minister, V.P. Singh, to go to Ayodhya to protest against the BJP's ‘mandir wahin banayenge' (we will build the ram temple at the disputed site) plank. On October 29, 1991, V.P. Singh was arrested at Ram Snehi Ghat and prevented from reaching Ayodhya to protest against acquisition of land near the disputed site by the Kalyan Singh government and the flattening of some temples by Vishwa Hindu Parishad bulldozers.
Gadkari announced a series of agitations and protest marches that would be organised by his party at various places “beginning Tuesday.” The party slogan adopted is: “Loktantra bachao, bhrashtachar hatao” (Save democracy, end corruption). He compared the situation to the Emergency of 1975 when “democratic rights were trampled upon” by the Indira Gandhi government.
Party sources disclosed that the BJP would now make an attempt to ride the wave of public anger against corruption and prevent Mr. Hazare and his team from “hijacking” the plank from the main Opposition party.