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Monday, 12 December 2011

8 parties on Anna stage, Congress feels heat

New Delhi:Despite differences over the details of their positions, the presence of representatives of eight political parties on Anna Hazare’s stage at Jantar Mantar on Sunday is likely to put the Congress in a tight spot in Parliament on this issue as the total strength of these parties adds up to 201 MPs in the Lok Sabha.

Leaders of BJP (115), SP (22), JD(U) (20), CPM (16), BJD (14), TDP (6), CPI (4) and Akali Dal (4) shared the platform with Hazare. Though the combined number of these parties is well below the halfway mark in the 543-member Lok Sabha, the fact that they chose to share the stage with Hazare a day after his direct attack on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is fraught with ominous signal for the Congress on this issue.

That they chose to ignore Team Anna’s disparaging remarks against the entire political class early in their Jan Lokpal campaign indicated the intention of these eight parties to put the Congress on mat in Parliament on issues being championed by Hazare. Leaders of this group appeared almost united on the issues of bringing Prime Minister, lower bureaucracy and investigation wing of CBI under the proposed Lokpal. This may mean that the idea has the support of 201 MPs.

“The PM is also a minister of many ministries and he is responsible for taking decisions. If the PM is not brought under the Lokpal, then who will take care of the corruption in the ministries,” CPI leader A B Bardhan said.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley echoed similar sentiments, saying, “We demand everybody who is in the government should come under the purview of Lokpal. We oppose the PM’s non-inclusion in the Lokpal Bill.”

The leaders also supported giving Lokpal control over investigation into corruption cases by the CBI. “The ruling parties have been using the CBI for their political advantage... there is a need to have an autonomous, independent CBI,” JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said.

However, the leaders laid bare their frustration with Team Anna’s inflexible stand and cautioned them. “Team Anna should not expect that each and every point it makes is accepted. They should show some flexibility. They should not think the entire wisdom of the world is with nine-10 people (Team Anna). There is no dearth of scholars in a country of 120 crore. Team Anna should also listen to others and have the patience to listen to others,” Bardhan said.

“You should not presume that all politicians are dishonest.... You should not insist for identical (to Jan Lokpal) Bill,” said SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav amid shouts against him.


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