Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lokpal mess: Trinamool puts Govt. on tenterhooks, favours autonomy for states

Didi is again out with her tantrics putting the government on tenterhooks.
A day after leaving the Congress-led UPA alliance high and dry by opposing the revised Lokpal Bill on the floor of Lok Sabha, Ms Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress today made it clear that the party will never compromise on the autonomy of the states in setting up state-level ombudsman but asserted that it will not vote against the government.
“There is no question of voting against the UPA government, it’s our government,” a senior party leader said clarifying on the party’s strategy to be adopted during the crucial debate and voting on the revised Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Decembe 29, 2011.
Trinamool Congress’s last minute opposing the bill in the Lok Sabha yesterday had caused severe embarrassment to the government especially to the crisis management team headed by Mr Pranab Mukherjee.
Trinamool has six members in Rajya Sabha and have decided to move two amendments. The party member Mr Sukhendu Sekhar Roy is set to move the amendments seeking to “overhauling and deletion” of Part-3 of the Bill with summary deletion of clauses from 63 to 97 in the Part 3 on Lokayuktas. .
“We also want renaming of the Bill. It should be simply Lokpal Bill. States should be at liberty to frame their own anti-corruption law. The word ‘Lokayuktas’ should be dropped from the original name of the draft bill,” one party MP said. The Trinamul floor leaders in Mr Sudip Bandyopadhyaya, Mr Mukul Roy and Mr Derek O Brien also met the Finance Minister Mr Mukerjee in response to the ‘invitation’ from him to end the deadlock.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal and MoS Personnel Mr V Narayanasamy were also present.
“We will not create problem for the government. That’s not our intention,” one senior Trinamul leader said after the meeting indicating that further consultations would be held both within the party and also with the government to end the deadlock.

Amid the party's clear stand that it will not allow any tampering with the federal structure as enshrined in the basic structure of the constitution, six Rajya Sabha members met at the residence of Mr Mukul Roy while the party supremo Ms Mamata Banerjee too was consulted more than once during the day.

“The provisions in Part 3 are objectionable and should be modified,” Mr Roy said earlier during the day adding the party has taken exception to the ‘mandatory clause’ as the bill was being brought under Article 253 which would leave the states with no choice but to set up the Lokayuktas toeing the central line.
Trinamul sources defending the party’s Lok Sabha MP Mr Kalyan Banerjee’s criticism of the bill in Lok Sabha asserted “it was not a belated decision”.
“Our party nominee in the standing committee Sukhendu Sekhar Roy has sounded on these lines in the Standing Committee deliberations. We did not give any dissent note, that does not mean our views should be ignored. We are all for federal structure of the constitution,” a key party leader said.
On December 27 in the Lok Sabha, the 19-member strong UPA constituent Trinamool sprang a major surprise during the historic debate in
the Lok Sabha on the Lokpal Bill when it pooh-poohed the government’s
claim of a strong draft legislation and went on to oppose the bill on
the ground that it was ‘encroaching’ on the federal structure of the
constitution.
Maintaining that the Bill would at best only create a 'super
investigating agency' in the form of Lokpal, party's chief whip in Lok
Sabha, Mr Kalyan Banerjee said, the proposed Lokpal would (have to) submit
"merely an investigation report" before a court of law, which will not
be accepted "unless it is proved before the court itself".
He said an investigating agency report has to be given to the Special
Court, and the Special Court will decide the matter in accordance
with the procedures of the Code of Criminal Procedure and "nothing
more than that".

Sharing concerns expressed by BJP leader Ms Sushma Swaraj and several
opposition members that the bill would attack
the rights of the states, he said, "If the bill is adopted then I
think it encroaches upon the federal structure of constitution”.

Contesting the HRD Minister Mr Kapil Sibal’s contentions, he argued
that Section 81(7)(b) of the Bill directly encroaches upon the “domain
of the state legislative assembly”.
Seeking the attention of the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who was
present in the House, he said there should not be any misconception
that just because Lokpal Bill has not come for decades “it means that all
the previous Prime Ministers or the Ministers were in favour of
corruption.”
“If this type of Bill has not still come in the states, then this does
not mean that the state Legislatures or the State Chief Ministers are
in favour of corruption,”
Mr Banerjee said rather eloquently.
He said, the government should not “undermine the State Legislatures
nor undermine the Ministers of the States” and stay away from entering
into the arena of the states and added that such a move would be “a
dangerous proposition.”
Also sounding much critical the manner the government had tried to
bring in the legislation under pressure from
Anna Hazare’s anti-graft agitation, the Trinamul member said,
everybody is against corruption.
"It is not that only one person is fighting against corruption," he
said adding, it is not that the persons who are holding demonstrations
and dharnas are the only persons who are fighting against corruption.
"We have also been elected by people because people know that we are
honest".
Mr Banerjee also opposed the provisions under which the Speaker of the
Lok Sabha would be required to
report to the proposed Lokpal on actions taken by the Speaker on any
chargesheet filed against elected member of the House.
Moreover, he was also critical of the selection panel as proposed by
the government saying, "Lokpal will be selected by the Prime Minister,
and the Leader of Opposition. Both of them are under the Lokpal.
Therefore, both of them will decide who would be the Judge who might
be required to look into the matter in case they commit any fault in
future".

Ends

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