While Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and representative of Chief Justice of India, Justice H L Dattu, had supported PM Manmohan Singh’s suggestion to nominate senior lawyer P P Rao as the eminent jurist to the Lokpal selection panel, the BJP Wednesday targeted Singh for vitiating the process.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who had objected to Rao’s name, on Wednesday met President Pranab Mukherjee to register her objections to the PM’s reluctance to forge a consensus on the name of an eminent jurist for the panel.
Her counterpart in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley accused Singh of subverting the appointment of Lokpal from the first step itself. “Dr Singh’s tenure as PM comes to an end soon. Amongst the various institutions that he has done damage to is the collegium system for making appointments to several public positions. As one of those who was actively involved in drafting of the Lokpal law, I have started introspecting as to whether the collegium system can be so easily subverted in order to subvert the appointment of a Lokpal. The PM damaged the institution of Lokpal even prior to its appointment,” he said.
Jaitley questioned the restriction imposed on the ex-officio members to select the fifth person to the selection panel from the seven members proposed by the government and objected that the “PM maintained a position that only one name could be considered that of P P Rao. None of the names suggested by Swaraj could be considered”.
Jaitley expressed his disappointment over the failure of the Chief Justice’s nominee in suggesting an alternative name to break the logjam between Singh and Swaraj over one name. Targeting Singh, he said, “As PM Dr Manmohan Singh’s tenure comes to an end, it is time for him to introspect the damage he has done to the collegium system. He puts on a veneer of straightforwardness but he is excessively political.” He pointed out how “he wanted to appoint a tainted person as the CVC” despite objections from Swaraj and had to face embarrassment after the apex court struck down the appointment.
The BJP sought to lay the blame squarely at the doorstep of PM for not trying to forge a consensus.
“The first and foremost blame lies with the PM. The PM as leader of a team in the collegium must make an effort to bring about a consensus. He failed in the case of CVC. I am sorry to say he has failed all the more in the case of a Lokpal,” BJP deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravishankar Prasad said. “Dr Manmohan Singh, by insisting upon this one particular name and forcing its approval, is seeking to negate the entire spirit of Select Committee recommendations and Parliamentary approval.”