Nitish Kumar tells Anna his party and alliance in favor of an “effective” Lokpal

NDA leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has denied that the BJP-led opposition at the centre is playing dirty politics on the issue of the Lokpal bill.

He denied the Congress’ accusation that the BJP led National Democratic Alliance is opposed to the strict anti-corruption law proposed by the campaigners led by Anna Hazare. The Congress leaders have insinuated that the main opposition block, the NDA, is playing opportunistic politics by supporting the tough provisions put forth by Hazare in public, while countering them in private.

This gives the BJP the benefit of sharing the public support for the Hazare campaign, while keeping itself away from the implementation of a law that would severely curtail the ability of political parties and members to raise funds for themselves by providing illegal favors to companies and individuals.

Nitish said his party and his alliance know what their stand is and there is no confusion. “We have discussed it. We know what it is.. We believe that the law should be effective,” Kumar, who has received widespread praise for his crackdown on corruption in Bihar, said.

He however, objected to the way the opposition’s views on the bill were being sought. The Congress, after trying to exclude other parties in the drafting process initially, later decided to bring them in after realizing that defending the political establishment from a marauding Lokpal was costing it dearly in terms of public support.

It has, therefore, called for an all-party meeting early next month.

Nitish, however, repeated his objection to the way in which the opposition was being ‘browbeaten’ into joining the Lokpal discussion at this late stage.

“We will come out with [our position] only when there is a suitable occasion to do so,” he said, repeating the position he had taken when the Government had asked him for his response as the chief minister of Bihar earlier.

Nitish was also the subject of a lot of praise from the Civil Society side today when its leaders met him in the capital, with Anna praising his anti-corruption initiatives in his home state before the media today. Anna had called on Nitish as part of his efforts to build political support for a tough Lokpal bill before the all-party meet.

Asked whether Nitish felt that the people’s movement led by Anna Hazare was encroaching on the right of the Parliament to frame laws, he said there should be no conflict between the Parliament and the people. “The Parliament, after all, is also of the people,” he said.

The government has been arguing that demonstrators and campaigners should not try to dictate terms to the Parliament, which it considers the ‘supreme law making authority’ in the country. This has been countered by Anna who reminded them that elected members faced a conflict of interest in framing a law to punish themselves for their corruption.

“Parliament is a representative of the people. It is not above the people,” Hazare often points out.