Congress plans action against its absent MPs

Government's constitutional amendment bill in the Lok Sabha was defeated, as a dozen of Congress parliamentarians were missing despite a mandate that made attendance compulsory

After lack of numbers in the Lok Sabha (LS) killed a move to grant constitutional status to the Lokpal Bill, the Congress party yesterday said it was planning disciplinary action against 12 Congress MPs who were absent from the house despite a party mandate.

Passed: Chairman of the Standing Committee on Lokpal, Abhishek Manu
Singhvi, with copies of the Lokpal Bill. File pic

 Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office R Narayanaswamy, said that the Congress will issue a show cause notice to the MPs who skipped the vote. He added, "A diktat had been issued and they were informed over the phone and by SMS. Still, some Congress MPs were not present in the house, which is quite unfortunate."

Three bills were put to vote in the LS on Tuesday. However, the one seeking constitutional status for the Lokpal was quite significant for the Congress, as party's general secretory  leader Rahul Gandhi had first made the proposal in the Parliament this August.

Birthday: Congress President Sonia Gandhi attended the 127th Foundation
Day of the Congress party that was organised at the party headquarters
in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/Rajeev Tyagi

Lost by numbers
However, the government's constitutional amendment bill in the LS was defeated, as the ruling coalition didn't have the 50 per cent strength in the LS and two-thirds majority of the members present. When the treasury benches realised what had happened, the Congress was stunned into silence. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal had an animated conversation.

The Congress has issued similar whip to its Rajya Sabha MPs where similar voting on the Lokpal Bill is likely to take place.

� With inputs from Agencies

Sonia blames BJP's 'real face' for debacle
Congress president Sonia Gandhi yesterday attacked the BJP, saying it had showed 'its real face' by spiking a move to give constitutional status to the Lokpal.

"The BJP was committed to constitutional status for Lokpal at the (Parliamentary) Standing Committee (meeting)," she told reporters at the Congress office, speaking first in Hindi and then in English.

"But yesterday, we saw their (BJP) real face. The strength we wanted to give to Lokpal, they did not want it," she said.

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