Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BJP voted against the Constitutional amendment because it voted against the Lokpal Bill

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley said that their party would not vote for a bill that was 'blatantly unconstitutional'. They had two objections. First, the reservation for minorities -- read Muslims -- in the Lokpal panel, which they said went against the Constitution because reservations based on religion was not allowed in the Constitution. Second, they objected to the centre making the Lokayukta - the counterpart of Lokpal at the centre -- law for the states because that would dilute the federal structure of the Constitution and the polity. These two points were not part of the Constitution amendment bill, but part of the main Lokpal bill. Jaitley however qualified that his party was not against the idea of giving the Lokpal constitutional status.

The Congress leaders made out that they thought the BJP would vote for the Constitution amendment bill even if it did not vote for the Lokpal bill. That was an ingenious statement that does not wash. But it created enough doubt in the minds of people that BJP was playing politics as usual -- which it does like any other party -- and that Congress has a point. Congress does not have a point in this case. If the BJP did not accept the Lokpal bill there was no way it could have accepted the Constitutional amendment. It is not possible to vote for half the bill and not vote for it the other half.

In spite of being hyper-articulate, Swaraj and Jaitley failed to clarify that it was simple logic -- they did not vote for the amendment because they did not agree with the Lokpal bill which went with the amendment.

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