New Delhi : In a major embarrassment to the United Progressive Alliance, a combined opposition Tuesday defeated the government move to provide constitutional status for the newly voted Lokpal institution.
The suggestion for providing constitutional status for Lokpal was made in the Lok Sabha in the monsoon session by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and was pressed on by the government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
When the constitutional amendment bill in this regard was put to vote in the Lok Sabha, the government failed to muster enough strength required to get the bill passed, resulting in Speaker Meira Kumar announcing that the bill now stood “infructuous”.
The government did not have the required strength in the Lok Sabha — 50 percent of the total strength and two-thirds of the total members present in the house — resulting in the opposition taking advantage of its vulnerability.
All the clauses of the bill were negated with the combined opposition — the NDA, Left parties, AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal and others — seizing the opportunity to embarrass the government.
Soon after the bill was defeated, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the house that the government’s intention was to give constitutional status to the Lokpal institution, which the Lok Sabha voted only minutes earlier, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had defeated the purpose of the bill.
“We knew, we did not have the requisite numbers. It is a sad day for democracy, it is a sad day for Lokpal institution. The BJP defeated the purpose of the bill,” he said.
The BJP benches immediately protested with prominent members of the party like Yashwant Sinha, Ananth Kumar, Gopinath Munde and Murli Manohar Joshi, objecting Mukherjee’s statement and blaming the UPA for not mobilising enough numbers.