Jethmalani triggers ruckus in Lokpal debate
New Delhi, Dec 29 (IANS) Former law minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Ram Jethmalani triggered a storm in the Rajya Sabha Thursday when he said that a former India prime minister figured in the list of Indians having stashed away black money in foreign banks.
'A Swiss magazine published the names and pictures of 14 people who have their stash hidden away. It's a shame that the 14th person was India's then PM,' Jethmalani said, while speaking on the anti-graft Lokpal bill.
The remark, an oblique reference to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, triggered uproar. Furious Congress MPs wanted the noted criminal lawyer to withdraw his remark.
A booklet published by the BJP last year had alleged that Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her husband Rajiv Gandhi were among the Indians who held Swiss bank accounts abroad.
BJP leader L.K. Advani later wrote to Sonia Gandhi, regretting the mention of their names in the booklet.
Jethmalani revisited the issue and said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government would be voted out in the next Lok Sabha election.
He said the government didn't have the courage to pursue black money details even as they had been made public.
The BJP leader strongly opposed the Lokpal bill and wanted the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to be brought under the purview of the proposed ombudsman.
'The power of superintendence over the CBI should be transferred from the central government to the Lokpal to make it independent,' he said.
He praised Anna Hazare for bringing 'out the consciousness of the public on the issue of corruption'.
'Corruption is not a discovery by Anna Hazare, it was discovered long ago,' he said.
'The people have made up their minds to throw out this government in the next election. Power corrupts, but the prospect of losing power corrupts absolutely,' he said.