By Sushma Swaraj & Arun Jaitley
The Congress Party led UPA has yesterday prevented the nation from getting a strong Lokpal.
The strategy of the Bharatiya Janata Party and several other opposition parties was clear. We would defeat a weak and spurious Lokpal law but we would insist on amendments which would improve and convert the weak law into a strong law. We would insist on the passage of a strong law particularly in the Rajya Sabha where numbers were on the side of the Opposition.
We had categorically mentioned that the consensus amendments amongst opposition parties on three basic issues, namely, protecting the legislative jurisdiction of the States by making a model law under Article 252, by liberating the appointment and removal process of the Lokpal from the clutches of the Central Government and by making the investigative process simpler and the investigative agency more autonomous, was non-negotiable. The intention was that these three changes be incorporated in the Government’s draft and we would have approved the amended law.
The Government delayed initiating a discussion on the 28th of December and deferred it to 29th December 2011. It wanted to give more time and flexibility to its managers who wanted to manipulate certain political parties.
They did not succeed. Their allies were drifting away. The Trinamool Congress had a serious problem with the State’s jurisdiction being usurped. The National Conference had its own objections. It became clear by the evening that the Government’s attempt to manipulate majority had failed. The numbers were loaded in favour of the amendments which would have created a strong Lokpal mechanism.
Any honourable Government would have either allowed a vote as per the mood of the House and the Nation or agreed to certain amendments. The UPA wanted a weak Lokpal. It could do neither.
It, therefore, decided to subvert the parliamentary institution. It requisitioned a friendly party to organize a disturbance but the friendly party had only three members. The disturbance was not effective enough. The Government filibustered with an endless debate which had become repetitive towards the end. It was working towards an unacceptable argument that at 12 PM midnight the house would automatically stop working.
The Government created a disturbance and got the House adjourned. At the stroke of the midnight hour when the world slept, India awoke to a great fraud being played on its parliamentary democracy.
It is now crystal clear that this Government does not want a strong Lokpal. It merely wants a spurious and a phony mechanism which can be manipulated by the Government. The battle for creation of a strong and effective Lokpal shall go on.
The subversion of the Rajya Sabha last night by the Government by denying it the opportunity to make an effective legislation is a significant moral scar on this government.
The Prime Minister must now live with one more moral stigma. He won the 2008 vote of confidence through bribery. He has now led a government with subverted parliament and prevented it from legislating effectively on the Lokpal.
The UPA appears to be disintegrating. One of its allies had openly declared its intention to vote against it on a key issue. Another ally, the National Conference, had expressed reservations about the Government’s resort to Article 253 for making this legislation. This is the beginning of the end of the UPA Government. Its allies will disintegrate and its voter base will shrink.
A big lesson for the UPA after yesterday’s midnight fiasco would be that it pays to walk straight. The UPA appears to have lost that habit of being politically correct. Management, manipulation and fixing seem to be its only key areas of preference. Such fixers are good when the going is good. When the going is not so good even they collapse. This is what has happened yesterday.
A Government which shies away from a vote and uses extra constitutional methods to avoid a vote, loses both political and moral authority. The UPA Government has no right to continue even for a moment.
We demand that the Prime Minister and his government must now resign and seek a fresh mandate on the issue whether it is their version of Lokpal.
Let India decide whether it wants this Government’s version of the weak Lokpal or our version of a strong and effective Lokpal.
The Kashmir Telegraph is the publication of Pune-based, not for profit, think-tank, Kashmir Bachao Andolan. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org