M A I N   N E W S

Lokpal fiasco sets stage for bigger poll battle 
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, December 30
The pitched battle witnessed between various political parties in Parliament over the last three days on the Lokpal Bill has set the stage for the war ahead in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Getting into election mode, the BJP today declared that it will take to the streets to expose the UPA government on the Lokpal issue. Recovering from last night’s humiliation when it was forced to defer a vote on the anti-corruption law in the Rajya Sabha, a combative Congress is also getting ready to counter this propaganda in its election campaign.

The tone and tenor of the media blitzkrieg launched by the UPA government today suggested that the Congress will turn the tables on the BJP with the charge that the main Opposition party is not serious about combating corruption which was evident from the manner in which it opposed the establishment of lokayuktas in the states.

This position was first articulated by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal in his Lok Sabha speech on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas when he accused the BJP of double standards as it was pressing for a strong anti-graft ombudsman at the Centre but did not want a similar body in the states where the aam admi is badly affected by corruption in his daily life.“You say you want to fight corruption at the Centre but, at the same time, are embracing corruption in the states,” Sibal had charged, saying the BJP was using the argument of federalism to protect its Chief Ministers.

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Information and Broadcasting Minister, who were among the four ministers fielded today to launch a sctathing attack against the BJP, also spoke in the same vein in a clear attempt to paint the main opposition party as the real villain of the Lokpal drama.

“The BJP wants a Lokpal Bill only because the Congress is in power at the Centre but it does not want its chief ministers to be brought under an ombudsman,” Azad reiterated.

While the BJP and other political parties like the SP, BSP and the Akali Dal will seek to deflect attention from its own misdemeanours in the coming election campaign, the Congress strategy will be to keep the focus on local issues. “How can anybody accuse us of corruption in Uttar Pradesh... we have not been in power there for over two decades,” remarked a Congress minister, adding that it will train its guns on the scams and scandals of the Mayawati government in UP, the Akali government in Punjab and the BJP government in Uttarakhand.

Undoubtedly worried about the possible impact of Team Anna’s plans to campaign against it in the five poll-bound states, the Congress strategy here is to expose the “collusion” between the civil society organisation and the Opposition. Pointing to Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur’s Lok Sabha speech on the Lokpal Bill, a senior minister said, it clearly showed that the Akalis are riding piggyback on Anna Hazare’s campaign to put a lid on its government’s dismal performance. Pinning the blame for the failure of the Lokpal Bill on the opposition, Ambika Soni said Team Anna had actually given an incentive to the BJP to resist the passage of an anti-graft legislation by promising to campaign against the Congress. 





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