BJP blocked strong Lokpal: Rahul Gandhi

The anti-graft Lokpal ombudsman failed to get constitutional status due to the "betrayal" of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said Wednesday.

"The Congress party wanted to give the same constitutional status to the Lokpal as the Election Commission enjoys, but the BJP betrayed us, even though it had initially assured its support to a strong bill," Gandhi said while addressing a public rally in Sisaya village of Dharhaura constituency of Lakhimpur-Kheri district, about 160 km from Lucknow.

He felt that the bill seeking constitutional status for the Lokpal would not have been defeated in the Lok Sabha if the BJP had kept its word and supported the Congress to ensure a two-third majority required for passing the measure.

The Lok Sabha Tuesday passed the Lokpal bill, but a bill seeking constitutional status for the body was defeated.

The Constitution (116th Amendment) Bill was defeated in the Lok Sabha not only on account of BJP's opposition but also because of a sudden walkout by Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which provide outside support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Terming the BJP's change of stand as "betrayal with the people", he said the party's top brass, including L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj, "cannot absolve themselves of their responsibility".

He also trained his guns on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who he said was opposed to every initiative to provide social security to the masses.

"Take the case of food security bill, which was opposed by Mayawati, who claimed that such a law would not benefit anyone," he said.

Hitting out at Mayawati for alleged irregularities in the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in the state, he said: "Apparently, Mayawati cannot understand the plight of the poor, because she has never seen the home of a poor man. No winder she went to the extent of terming the food security bill as some kind of melodrama."

"The central government has been dutifully releasing generous funds for the benefit of the poor in Uttar Pradesh, but Mayawati's elephant (the BSP symbol) eats up all that money," he quipped.

Gandhi, currently on the third leg of his election tour of the state, addressed two public meetings in Lakhimpur-Kheri, followed by another meeting in Pilibhit district, represented in the Lok Sabha by his estranged cousin, Varun Gandhi of the BJP.

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