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BJP making excuses not to pass Lokpal Bill: Singhvi

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making excuses not to pass the Lokpal Bill, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday while hitting out at the opposition party for not having the courage to make its stance clear.

Attacking Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, who initiated the debate in the House, Singhvi said, “The fundamental question was: ‘Do you want to pass a Lokpal Bill or not?’”

"They (BJP) are making statements of stringent conditions in the Bill and are saying they want to pass a strong and comprehensive Bill but after three months. They are using it (conditions) as a pretext not to pass the Bill," Singhvi said.

"If you don't want to pass the Bill, say so and have the courage and don't hide in excuses.

"Don't hide from the nation that you are passing the Bill and your colleagues in the other house say refer it to the standing committee… please be honest in your convictions and take a stand," he told the BJP. — IANSBack



Govt creating subservient Lokpal: Jaitley

NEW DELHI: Accusing the government of creating a “subservient” Lokpal, BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Thursday stressed the need for a strong anti-graft ombudsman and indicated that his party would move amendments to the Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha by the government.

Initiating the debate on the landmark Bill, Jaitley said: “You (the government) want to control appointments, want government control over investigating agency, use Lokpal to intrude every aspect of civil society.”

He said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wanted the House to pass a strong Lokpal Bill and called upon the parties supporting the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to “strike and not merely proclaim” on their concerns regarding the Bill.

"We don't want the present Bill, but also don't want to go back today (Thursday) without passing a Lokpal Bill. We want a strong Lokpal Bill," he said.

Pointing out that Parliament had been unable to pass the Lokpal Bill eight times, he said the Rajya Sabha should prove that elected representatives were committed to building a strong institution.

“Would they allow a weak Bill or support amendments to make it a strong Bill... The whole country is watching our debate and people will not forgive those supporting a weak Lokpal Bill," he said.

Referring to quota provisions in the Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha Tuesday night, the BJP leader said the government had consciously brought a law that was “unconstitutional and vulnerable”.

Jailey, whose speech was heard with rapt attention by the House, said the legal architecture framed by the government was weak.

“The legal architecture you have made is not very strong... The government is creating a constitutional cocktail... I regret to say this is half-hearted legislation.”

Jaitley alleged that the government wanted to create a smokescreen by talking to civil society.

“They wanted to create a phoney Lokpal and a smokescreen. They wanted to make it a toy and then say it is a Constitutional authority.”

The leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha added that the investigative mechanism under the Lokpal was multi-layered and complicated and would not help in speedy probes.

“Whoever conceived this is alien to criminal jurisprudence. Why create this unworkable mechanism... This is not a question of victory and defeat of the government,” he said, adding that the government should accept amendments of the Opposition.

Referring to provisions in the Bill that refer to donations to trusts, he said any private employee associated with these bodies would be under the Lokpal. “It is revenge provision to teach civil society a lesson.”

“What we are trying today is a government controlled intrusive authority that enters every area of private lives,” he said.

Pointing to provisions in the Bill on creation of Lokayuktas in states, Jaitley said it would impinge on the powers of the state.

“Why are you creating Constitutional havoc?” he asked, adding there was no conflict in fighting corruption and federalism.

Describing Lokpal as a “primary integrity institution”, Jaitley said the government should not subvert it.

“Are you going to subvert it? Will you kill the Lokpal in the womb? We want to create an independent Lokpal, you want to create a subservient Lokpal. You want a pliable agency, so that it is a rudderless institution.

“If we are creating history, we should not create bad history,” Jaitley said. — IANS



Australia outpace India to seize opening Test

MELBOURNE: Australia’s makeshift pace attack performed above and beyond expectations on Thursday, tearing through India’s formidable batting unit to propel the hosts to an emphatic 122-run victory in the first Test. 

With front-line bowlers Ryan Harris and Shane Watson sidelined, the unlikely trio of Peter Siddle, 21-year-old James Pattinson and discard Ben Hilfenhaus combined brilliantly to dismiss India for 169 on the fourth day in Melbourne. 

The win gave Michael Clarke’s rebuilding team a 1-0 lead in the four-Test series and a shot of confidence before the second match in Sydney next week after being under fire for recent demoralising losses to New Zealand and South Africa. “We’ll take some confidence out of this Test match, no doubt,” Clarke told reporters. “We deserve this win because of the amount of effort and time we’ve put into our preparation, but it means nothing come Sydney.” 

Pattinson, who made his Test debut two matches prior with a five-wicket haul against New Zealand, struck an unbeaten 37 in the morning to set India a 292-run chase and set about ensuring the tourists would get nowhere near it in the afternoon. The ultra-confident right-armer took four wickets in the second innings and finished with seven in a man-of-the-match performance showcased in front of nearly 190,000 home fans over the four days of play.

“Obviously, for me it’s a dream come true to play cricket for Australia and to be out there on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) and against India with the batting lineup,” Pattinson said after adding the scalps of Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman to his already impressive resume. “I know with Sachin (Tendulkar)... I wasn’t even born when he started playing cricket, so to go out there and bowl against him and have some success against their batsmen is just unbelievable and to get a win is even better.” 

While Pattinson took the award, both his partners made legitimate claims. Siddle, a fiery redhead from rural Victoria, slammed the final nail in India’s coffin when he dismissed the talismanic Tendulkar for 32 after lunch.  He also cut short the 38-year-old’s bid for his 100th international century in the first innings, bowling him on 73 to stall India’s charge before going on to finish with six wickets.


Hilfenhaus, written off as a predictable workhorse after his poor Ashes series, raised eyebrows with his selection but marched out to notch seven wickets with the swinging ball, including a test-best five-wicket haul in the first innings.  Combined, the trio conquered a batting lineup boasting two of the format’s highest scorers in Tendulkar and Dravid, along with seasoned champions Sehwag and Laxman.

“Experience counts, but at the same time you need to give the credit to the opposition bowlers because of the line and length they bowled,” India captain MS Dhoni told reporters. “I think they bowled really well, they pushed the batsmen to play most of the deliveries.

“We are known to be tentative starters and I think in the next game it will be slightly better.”

India rued its failure to clean up Australia’s tail quickly, as Pattinson, dropped on 15 by paceman Zaheer Khan, propelled Australia to 240 all out after the hosts resumed on 179-8.  India’s chase began shakily with Sehwag dismissed for seven before lunch and snowballed into a full-blown collapse in the second session.

Opener Gambhir (13), Dravid (10), Laxman (1) and Kohli (0) all fell cheaply, with only Tendulkar making a defiant stand after coming out to a standing ovation, possibly for the last time in Melbourne.

However, the “Little Master” was unable to complete a the rescue mission as Siddle tempted him with a fuller delivery that he drove straight to Mike Hussey in the gully. Having slumped to 81-6, India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and Dhoni threw caution to the wind with a 36-run stand but Siddle came again to get the former to glove a simple catch to Ed Cowan behind the wicket.

Pattinson combined with Nathan Lyon to clean up the tail, with the spinner snaring the last wicket of Umesh Yadav for 21, when the paceman slogged into the deep where David Warner made a sprinting acrobatic catch near the rope.

That sparked jubilant scenes as Australia’s players charged to the middle for a group hug, whooping with joy after sewing up an impressive win with an injury-depleted side.  “It’s a great start to the series,” Clarke said at the presentation ceremony. “India are a fantastic team and it’s great to get a win but we know they’ll come back hard at us in Sydney.” — ReutersBack



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