New Delhi, Dec 12: The Congress Monday accused the opposition of ‘double standards’ for raising the Lokpal issue outside parliament when it was in session but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rebutted the charges and said no disrespect had been shown.
Discussing the Lokpal issue outside parliament was ‘not acceptable’, said Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.
‘In a democracy there is a platform for discussion on every issue. Parliament is the best forum for discussion,’ Soni told reporters outside parliament, a day after opposition party members joined the public debate on the Lokpal bill at Anna Hazare’s fast venue Jantar Mantar Sunday.
‘Raising issues outside parliament shows the opposition’s double standards. This is not acceptable. When we speak outside parliament they say it is against parliamentary tradition,’ she added.
‘We also want a strong Lokpal but it should be discussed in parliament,’ Soni said.
In Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s view, ‘parliamentary democracy is based on discussion and there should be discussion on every issue’.
National Conference chief and Minister for New and Renewable Energy agreed: ‘Parliament is supreme. So, they (opposition) should put forth their views in parliament which is the right forum.’
But the BJP dismissed the charges.
‘We all respect parliament… the leaders who went there categorically said law-making must be done by parliament alone,’ BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
‘But it’s equally important that the country is pained at the series of massive corruption of the government. If the leaders went there (Jantar Mantar) to have a dialogue with them, what is wrong,’ Prasad said.
‘As far as parliament’s dignity is concerned, we don’t have to learn from the Congress,’ he added.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley, Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav, and Left leaders A.B. Bardhan, Brinda Karat and D. Raja, among others, were at Jantar Mantar while the Congress and its allies gave the event a miss.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said he did not get an invite to Jantar Mantar but it was good that the supremacy of parliament was hailed.
‘Good that all political parties at Jantar Mantar emphasised the importance of parliament. We cannot overlook parliament,’ he told reporters.
‘There are many discussions, seminars… some in open, some closed… it does not make a difference,’ he said.
‘They said they had sent the invite to my office, I did not get it but it’s ok, parliament will debate it. Our party has this line that we want a strong Lokpal bill, and we will present this point in the meeting with the prime minister,’ Pawar said.
Hazare has threatened to intensify protests across the country if his version of the Lokpal is not accepted by parliament. He said his supporters would court arrest if the bill was not passed in the winter session.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a meeting of government allies Tuesday and an all-party meeting Wednesday to reach a consensus on the Lokpal bill, which seeks to end corruption at various levels of government.