“THE UPA government has mishandled the Lokpal issue. This is a very immature government. I pity them,” said the senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Dr Murli Manohar Joshi while recently talking to mediapersons in New Delhi . Dr Joshi, however, refused to clear the party’s view whether Prime Minister should come within the ambit of Lokpal and said the party would put forward its point of view when the draft comes to it.
Commenting on HRD Minister Kapil Sibal’s remarks that there would be no future tie-ups with the civil society on law-making following controversies in the Lokpal Bill Joint Drafting Committee, Dr Joshi said: “They didn’t seek our suggestion before setting up the Panel. First, they welcomed them and four ministers went to receive Baba Ramdev at airport. Now they are keeping them at arm’s length. I am surprised to see this.” He said the BJP wanted the government to bring Lokpal Draft Bill to Parliament but remained non-committal if the Opposition would support it. “That depends on the provisions in the Bill. Let them table it,” he said.
Hitting out at the Congress-led UPA government for recent hike in diesel and cooking gas prices, Dr Joshi said the BJP would raise these issues in coming monsoon session of the Parliament. He said the government was hiking the fuel prices to maintain its growth figures at the cost of common man’s budget. “In order to keep up your economic health, you are worsening the economic health of the aam aadmi,” he said adding that the government has failed to manage its fiscal deficit and is now putting the burden on the common man.
Dr Joshi refused to buy the government’s argument that fuel prices were hiked because international rates of crude had gone up, due to which petroleum companies were suffering losses and the fuel subsidy was getting burdened. “The justification is wrong because the government gets Rs 1.35 lakh crore tax from the petroleum sector, of which Rs 4,430 crore is given as subsidy. Of this, the states’ share is Rs 55,000 crore. The government still saves Rs 44,000 crore. The subsidy burden is off the mark,” he said, adding that the Opposition would ask the government to have a “transparent and rationalised” fuel price policy so that “people are not kept in dark”.
“This government does not care about the aam aadmi,” he said. Dr Joshi, however, did not directly respond to questions whether the BJP-ruled states would follow the example of West Bengal, Kerala and Delhi and cut taxes to reduce the burden of higher prices on people, but said, “We will ask our Chief Ministers and Finance Ministers to discuss the issue with the Centre. What he argued for was a good and open debate in the Parliament and then ‘transparency’ on what the actual cost is — taking into account the high prices of international crude — and a ‘rational formula’ for fixing the retail prices. Contrary to the government’s claims, he said, oil companies were generating good profits and certainly not in the red.
On the issues before Public Accounts Committee, he said, he would soon place the letter from the Speaker rejecting the draft report on the 2G Spectrum allocation scam, which he had sent to her. He maintained that the report was ‘valid’ as it had been ‘approved’ by the Committee. It would be up to the Committee to decide what to do with that report. “I have decided to table the report again before the PAC and then only the committee members would decide if they want to take up the issue again,” the PAC Chairman said. It is to be noted that the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar had returned the PAC report on 2G Spectrum allocation on June 14. The report was submitted by Dr Joshi on April 30. (FOC)