PTI:Peeved over the “attitude of the Congress” in Parliament which was paralysed over the detention of Anna Hazare, Opposition leaders would meet later on Tuesday to decide their course of action, including a proposal to boycott proceedings for three days.
In an early morning crackdown, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and his close aides were detained by police after the Gandhian vowed to go ahead with his fast for a strong Lokpal and defy prohibitory orders at the venue of his agitation.
High drama was witnessed in Mayur Vihar area in east Delhi when police detained the 74-year-old Gandhian at about 7:30 am from an apartment about three hours before he was to sit on his agitation. A large number of supporters opposed the action and shouted slogans supporting him.
Home Secretary R K Singh said Mr. Hazare was detained because he said he intended to defy prohibitory orders and sit on fast at JP Park in central Delhi. Delhi Police had denied permission for his fast after he refused to abide by all the 22 conditions set by them for the agitation.
Mr. Hazare’s close aides Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal were detained outside Rajghat. Lawyer Shanti Bhushan was also picked up.
“We will move the Supreme Court,” Prashant Bhushan, lawyer and close associate of Mr. Hazare, said.
Describing his detention by police as the beginning of the “second freedom struggle”, Mr. Hazare asked people to participate in a “jail bharo” agitation.
“I have given a suggestion that we should boycott Parliament for three days. All Opposition parties will meet later today to take a decision on the issue”, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said.
He condemned the Congress “attitude”, saying the ruling party did not allow any discussion on the arrest of Mr. Hazare and others.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad also condemned the Congress “behaviour”, saying “they do not want anyone to speak outside Parliament and also obstruct speaking inside Parliament for the sake of defending their acts of corruption”.
Sushma demands PM’s statement
Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj today demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh make a statement in Lok Sabha on the issue of Anna Hazare’s detention.
“A statement from the Home Minister on the issue (Hazare) is not acceptable to us. We want Prime Minister’s statement in the House. Whatever has happened, the Prime Minister must explain,” Ms. Swaraj, told reporters outside Parliament.
She said, “If the Prime Minister gives a statement then there will be a discussion on it. If the Prime Minister does not give a statement, then we will decide our future course of action.”
Making a scathing attack on the government for “adopting undemocratic methods inside and outside the House”, Ms. Swaraj said, “This is happening for the first time that the Speaker’s ruling was challenged by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister.
“The Speaker allowed me to speak in the House but Parliamentary Affairs Minister (Pawan Bansal) said he would not allow me to speak.
“It is strange that the government whose responsibility is to run the House disrupted the House,” she said.
“Government is showing imbalance in Anna Hazare episode.
First four senior ministers negotiated with Mr. Hazare and now they are saying he is corrupt. The government is hell—bent on crushing civil rights of the citizens.”
Questioning the government’s decision to arrest Anna, she said, “Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC were imposed in JP Park but Hazare was arrested from Mayur Vihar where no Section 144 was imposed.”
Attack on democratic rights: Brinda
CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat also came down heavily on the Congress, saying Mr. Hazare’s arrest was “a strong attack on democratic rights. … I believe it also reflects the Congress party’s refusal to tolerate any movement against corruption.
“One can ask why is the Congress leadership taking this decision?. Clearly because their own government is steeped in corruption”, she said.
Maintaining that it was decided that all parties would be allowed to have their say on the issue, Mr. Karat said “It was the Congress which disrupted Parliament today. They should not have done it. They should have allowed the decision to reach the Chairman’s chamber to allow all parties to express their views for or against Anna’s arrest.”
Questioning the government’s intention to fight corruption, Ms. Karat wondered why the police action came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resolved to fight the menace.
“Yesterday, the Prime Minister mentioned his commitment against corruption 16 times in his Independence Day speech and next day he arrests people who want to peacefully protest against corruption.
“May be Congress leadership cannot tolerate anti-corruption movement because its own government is steeped in corruption, scams and scandals,” she said.
Former Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde also lambasted the government, saying it is not at all fair in a democracy to deny anyone the freedom to express his views by way of protest.
“I don’t think it’s fair at all in a democracy, merely because somebody wants to express his views by way of some protests,” he said questioning the detention of Mr. Hazare “in a mid-night manner without serving a detention order, without saying where they are taking him.”
“This is not the right way to do…Under article 22 (of Constitution), there is a procedure which has to be followed to detain a person,” Hedge said.
Have faith in Parliament, says CPI
Senior CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the Gandhian should have faith on Parliament.
“We want to tell Anna Hazare not to sit on fast. Parliament is there, Parliamentary Committee is discussing the Bill. Not only Hazare but we are also against corruption. We also want barring the President, everyone should be under Lokpal.
“Anna is not alone. We are also there. It is important to have faith in Parliament. If he takes this route deciding not to have faith on Parliament, it would not be good,” he said.