Trinamool Congress strongly opposes Lokpal Bill

New Delhi: Key UPA ally Trinamool Congress today strongly opposed the Lokpal Bill, asserting that it seeks to encroach upon the authority of states and weaken the country`s federal structure. Participating in the debate on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, Sukhendu S Roy (TC) said, "party leader (Mamata Banerjee) has directed us to oppose the bill to the extent" it seeks to encroach on autonomy of the states.

He said the party has moved amendments to delete the clauses (63 to 97) of the Bill, which deal with setting up of the Lokayukutas in the states. "I would request the government to delete Chapter three (related to Lokayukutas) in its entirety," Roy said. TC has six members in the Upper House where the UPA does not have a majority.

Roy said the bill in its original form did not have the provision relating to the Lokayukutas. "Suddenly and surprisingly it became Lokpal/Lokayukutas," he said, adding Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, conveying the `sense of the House` on August 27, had asked whether states would want separate law for the ombudsman. Roy said the TC was with the government, but its opposition was to the extent of the Lokpal Bill seeking to encroach states` autonomy.

He said TC is opposing the bill on merit and the party did not join the "jamboree outside" where `Vaampanthi (Left) and Rampanthi (BJP-RSS)` joined hands. He said even before Parliamentary Standing Committee, which went into the bill, several eminent jurists had suggested preserving states` autonomy.

DMK, another important ally of the Government, too cautioned the UPA not to attempt a legislation which undermines states. "I support the Bill on behalf of DMK. However, we need an explanation from the government. We are concerned to some extent. The Centre should not encroach upon or tresspass into the territory of the states," T Siva (DMK) said.