Reconvene parliament for Lokpal bill, BJP tells Patil (Fourth Lead)

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday asked President Pratibha Patil to reconvene the winter session of parliament for a vote on the anti-graft Lokpal bill that could not be passed after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned Jan 29 midnight.

‘We urged (the president) to reconvene the winter session for the passage of the Lokpal bill before the budget session,’ BJP leader Ananth Kumar told IANS, after party leaders, including president Nitin Gadkari and senior leader L.K. Advani, met Patil to complain about what they said was ‘subversion of parliament’ over the pending legislation.

‘The president could advise the government to reconvene the session and immediately take a vote. The government must be asked to explain the reasons why the house was disturbed through such contrived disturbances,’ the memorandum said.

Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley told reporters after meeting Patil at the Rashtrapati Bhavan that they ‘complained that there has been a subversion of parliament institution’.

Jaitley accused the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of resorting to ‘contrived disturbances’ to adjourn parliament to avoid voting on the Lokpal bill as they did not have the required majority in Rajya Sabha.

‘This is the first time in the country that to avoid voting, the government resorted to contrived disturbances in the parliament,’ Jaitley said.

‘In our memorandum we have urged the president to intervene in this matter,’ he said, adding that the party has asked the president to suggest to the government that the parliament session be reconvened and the voting procedure resumed.

Lok Sabha Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, former party president Rajnath Singh as well as M. Venkaiah Naidu, S.S. Ahluwalia and Ravi Shankar Prasad were among those who went to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, along with a large group of BJP MPs.

Advani said BJP leaders sought the president’s intervention.

‘Our national president and all of us met the president and requested her to intervene. Our complaint and dissatisfaction is on what happened in the Rajya Sabha,’ Advani said.

The Lokpal bill could not be passed in the upper house even after a three-day extension of the winter session. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned midnight Dec 29 without the scheduled voting.

The BJP has termed this as ‘murder of democracy’.

The memorandum also included previous incidents when the upper house was extended beyond midnight to complete the day’s proceedings.

‘The Chair has consistently ruled relying on Rule 13 that the parliamentary day continues as long as the agenda of the day is not exhausted,’ the memorandum pointed out.

‘Thus, 22nd December 1980, 17th September 1981, 8th May 1986, 29th December 1986, 14th December 1987, 11th May 1988, 12th October 1989, 13th October 1989 and 4th June 1991 are some illustrations when the House has sat beyond midnight. Obviously, the objection of the Government was not sustainable,’ it said.

Jaitley told reporters that the president has assured she would ‘examine all aspects’ of the BJP’s complaint.

‘The incident has left a blot on India’s parliamentary democracy. The nation looks up to you to restore the credibility of Indian parliament,’ the memorandum added.