All day long, the Parliament was engaged in a heated debate over the issue. The key speakers in this debate were Advani, Manish Tewari, Pranab Mukherjee, Yashwant Sinha, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Shashi Tharoor, and Sharad Yadav.
Below are few excerpts from the some of the speakers:
Manish Tewari, Congress MP and spokesperson:
Tewari took the brave front of accusing NDA of politicising the black money issue. Yet at the same time he claimed that the UPA government has not taken proper actions against those who are involved in evading tax.
He pointed out that "It is wrong to say that the black money problem has been created by the UPA Government. This is a legacy issue" and further questioned the opposition’s intention saying “NDA does not intend to bring black money back to India but to politicise black money. This is not a UPA vs NDA debate. We also want that the black money in foreign banks should come back to India."
He also raised the issue of Hasan Ali. He claimed that Ali’s money increased more during NDA regime. He further asked “why NDA did not take any step against him? During Congress’ tenure, there was a decrease in the asset growth of Hasan Ali”.
He clarified his point that there is no difference in black money in foreign banks and Indian banks.
He concluded by appreciating the NDA MPs for giving undertaking that they do not have black money in foreign banks. And he added that the same MPs should give a similar undertaking for banks in India as well.
Advani opened his debate reminding the floor of the house that “In the last two years there has been no discussion on issue of black money in the House”.
Citing a report of the Global Financial Integrity on black money, Advani declared that "Indians have an amount of Rs 25 lakh crore of black money in Swiss banks."
He appealed the government to reveal the names given by French government. He said that "It will be shameful if we come to know about these through some whistleblower like Julian Assange of Wikileaks did some time back”.
He stressed upon the evil effect of corruption stating that "the effects of corruption is the most devastating in the developing world. Corruption is a key element to inefficiency. He added that "There were reports that three MP's also have money in Swiss banks. I am not aware of it. He suggested that all MP's and political parties should give an undertaking to the speaker that they do not have black money in foreign banks other than the legitimate accounts in case the family is doing some business there. This voluntary act according to Advani would enhance credibility of the politicians as MP's are always in the limelight.
Pranab Mukherjee, Leader of the House and the Finance Minister:
Reacting to the opposition’s debate, Pranab said that the government could not quote any random figure on the black money issue. He said he needs authentic figures and Centre had shared information with other countries over that issue. But could not reveal the names of the tax defaulters due to various treaties that the Government had entered into with the foreign banks. He added that revealing names could violate the understanding with a sovereign government and could hurt the Indian businesses as some of them could be genuine investors abroad.
He offered appreciation for Advani stating “I appreciate Advani's yatra if it has influenced tax evaders, if it has achieved in creating awareness about black money."
He further said that he was surprised as the demand to reveal the names was made by Advani, who has once held the post of the home minister of the country.
He dismissed the Opposition charge of inaction and lagging behind by letting the House know that he has got 36,000 pieces of information and if it gets published other country would point out that India violated the agreement...hence he cannot share it. He said, “If we publish the names then they will withdraw the money".
The minister also made it clear that names of MPs did not figure in the information he has received.
He said revised tax treaty with Switzerland has come into force and would enable India to procure banking details with effect from April 1, 2011.
Just when the debate was coming to an end Samajwadi Party staged a walkout. Soon after Pranab Mukherjee concluded the debate the motion was put for a voice vote over the adjournment motion. The Noes had it over the Ayes and hence Advani's motion was defeated and the house was adjourned for the day to meet at 11 am on thursday.
After the business was over in the Parliament all the parties headed towards
's residence for an All-Party meet on Lok Pal.
Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s remarks at the all party meeting in New Delhi today:
"Thank you all for coming here today. I have invited you to this meeting to seek your guidance and views on the important matter of the Lokpal Bill. You will recall that a full discussion had been held in Parliament before the draft Lokpal Bill had been referred to the Standing Committee. Based on that discussion, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had made a statement on the same day in both the Houses of Parliament about the sense of the two Houses. In my letter of 27 August, 2011 to
in, which I had requested him to end his fast, I had said that the Parliament had agreed in principle on three matters. These were the Citizen's Charter, the inclusion of lower bureaucracy under the Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism and the establishment of Lokayukta in the States. The sense of the Houses and the records of discussions in Parliament had then been conveyed to the Standing Committee for their guidance.
The Standing Committee has now completed its deliberations. The Committee has done very valuable work in record time and I thank Abhishek Singhvi and his colleagues for the efforts they have put in. All of you would have seen the recommendations of the Standing Committee on the various issues and also the corresponding provisions of the draft Bill tabled by the Government earlier.
It is for this august group to indicate how far the recommendations of the Standing Committee meet the sense of the Parliament and how far the various provisions are feasible and efficacious. The Government is committed to implement in letter and spirit a good and effective Lokpal Bill that would have a quick and positive impact in further curbing the cancer of corruption without any adverse effects on the efficiency of our system of public administration. I am personally keen that this momentous legislation should be passed on the basis of consensus among all parties as far as possible and that this should not be subjected to party politics in any way. This is an occasion where we must keep the interests of the country foremost in our minds. The Government is also keen that we must make all efforts to pass a Lokpal Bill in this very session that is based on consensus and that is driven by Parliament as the custodian of legislation. Your guidance and cooperation in this matter are of paramount importance."
A lot was expected from this all-party meet but unfortunately the meeting failed to bring about a consensus on the CBI issue hence the deadlock still exist. All parties voiced the concern that the Lokpal bill should not be rushed. While Sushma Swaraj of the BJP views that her party wants the bill to be passed this winter session.
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