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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Advani disagrees with Team Anna, says Parliament is supreme

A day before the Jan Chetna Yatra begins, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani made two points: he did not rule himself out of the race to be declared the prime ministerial candidate and his party did not agree with the Anna Hazare team on several issues, including the recent assertion by team member Arvind Kejriwal that Anna was “above Parliament.”

“The party [BJP] will decide when elections come,” he said when asked whether he had ruled himself out as a prime ministerial candidate.

It seems that on several issues, including the Jan Lokpal Bill, Mr. Advani and his party were not on the same wavelength as the Anna team. The BJP, he said, had differed with Anna and his men on several key issues related to the Bill. For one, he did not think anyone had the right to challenge the parliamentary system.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, he said: “Parliament is the highest authority … I do not know in what context it was said Anna was above Parliament,” Mr. Advani.

“We [the BJP] had also differed with the Anna team on a bill that would send bureaucrats who delay work directly related to people. Our State governments have passed laws to give time-bound services to people and delays would attract fines. Later the Anna team agreed with us on this,” he said.

Mr. Advani said his ‘yatra' from the birthplace of Jayaprakash Narayan in Chhapra on October 11 to Delhi on November 20 would keep its focus on the twin issues of ‘clean politics' and `good governance” that he saw as keys to keeping India's democracy healthy. He pointed out that while Jayaprakash Narayan realised the importance of political parties and galvanised all the Opposition parties, the Anna team was shying away from engaging political parties.

On the demand for ‘right to recall' or ‘right to reject,' he said while there was need for electoral reforms to check criminalisation and the use of money power in politics, he was not sure whether in a big country like India the right to recall would work. “It is not so simple. No country of India's size has the right to recall.”

He hoped his ‘yatra' would create awareness and help build pressure on the government to bring out a white paper on black money after recent disclosures of certain names by Swiss banks to the government. The government should make public the names of Indians who held money in these banks and give the factual position. This money should be brought back to India and used to build national assets, he said while demanding a white paper on the subject.

He regarded the 2008 ‘cash-for-votes' incident as a turning point that marked the “ethical decline” of the United Progressive Alliance and endangered democracy itself. During the trust vote sought by the Manmohan Singh government in July 2008 after the withdrawal of support by the Left “there were 19 MPs who cross-voted. They were given bribes and were made to cross-vote [against their party whips].” And in connection with this incident “whistle-blowers had been put behind bars.”


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