New Delhi: The
much-awaited vote on the Lokpal bill fizzled out in the Rajya
Sabha amid chaos at midnight Thursday as the house was adjourned
sine die, leaving the government and opposition members at each
other's throats and the anti-corruption legislation's future
In unprecedented scenes, disorder enveloped the upper house
towards the end of the day-long animated and stormy debate on the
bill meant to combat the cancer of corruption. The Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) alleged that the government had lost the moral
right to govern.
"Any government which is running away from parliament does not
have the right to govern the country," BJP veteran Arun Jaitley
said in the house, just before a distraught Chairman Hamid Ansari
adjourned the house.
Outside the parliament building, even as BJP MPs raised slogans
against the government, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said the
Lokpal bill was very much alive and would come up in parliament's
February budget session.
The bill had been passed in the Lok Sabha two days ago.
The dramatic end to the proceedings capped an extended three-day
session of parliament over a bill that was born after Anna Hazare
unleashed an emotive crusade against corruption eight months ago
with a five-day fast.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal argued that
there was no way the government could have tackled the 187
amendments to the bill sponsored by the opposition.
Opposition leaders contested him, saying the government had
created a situation so as to avoid a voting that it would surely
"A government which did not have the numbers in the house has
consciously choreographed the entire debate in such a manner that
it cannot be concluded today," Jaitley said in his final remarks
before the house was adjourned.
Till late in the evening, Congress troubleshooters tried their
best to win over its ally Trinamool Congress as well as the
Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) but they were
adamant in their opposition to the bill's provisions infringing
upon the autonomy of states.
By night, it became clear that the government's Lokpal bill, minus
the amendments, would be defeated - like the way the move to give
the proposed legislation constitutional status was voted down in
the Lok Sabha.
The final hour of the proceedings was marked by uproar when an
aggressive Minister of State V. Narayanasamy came up against
opposition MPs shouting to know from Ansari how long the debate
would go on.
Suddenly, Rashtriya Janata Dal's Rajniti Prasad barged towards the
minister, snatched a copy of the Lokpal bill and tore it up.
An exasperated Ansari first adjourned the house for 15 minutes.
When the Rajya Sabha met again, disorder continued. Marxist
Sitaram Yechury demanded to know how much time the government
needed to tackle the amendments.
Bansal avoided a direct reply. And in the most clear signal that
the government did not want the session to continue, he said that
it was the government's prerogative to decide when the house can
Jaitley, who had kickstarted the debate Thursday morning, alleged
that the "government is running away from this house because it is
in a hopeless minority".
This triggered high-pitched shouting from Congress MPs.
Ansari said he had had enough.
As he began addressing members just after midnight, opposition
MPs, sensing he might adjourn the house without taking a vote on
the bill they were sure the government would lose, tried to shout
"An unprecedented situation has arisen. There appears to be a
desire to outshout each other," he said, triggering more din. This
led him to plead with the MPs: "Let me finish, let me finish, let
"What ruling can I give in this noise? I am afraid I can't do
anything if this is how Rajya Sabha is going to behave, then all
of us can go home."
He then ordered the national song to be played, marking the abrupt
closure of the extended winter session.
The opposition-government war continued outside the house. Amid
slogan shouting, Jaitley accused the government of "subverting
parliament". "The people of India will give it a fitting reply."