BJP skips PM's lunch to protest against misuse of CBI

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 24 2010, 06:53am hrs
The prelude to the Monsoon Session of Parliament turned turbulent for the government, as leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively boycotted a lunch being hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The reason for the boycott was what the Opposition BJP termed misuse of the CBI to harass political rivals. The allusion was to the CBI investigation into the role of Gujarat home minister Amit Shah's role in the Sohrabuddin encounter and Prajapati case.

Top government sources have confirmed that BJP leader LK Advani, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley were invited for the lunch, which was termed as customary by sources, but which was in fact called by the Prime Minister to break the ice before the Nuclear Liability Bill is taken up for consideration in this session.

The BJP leaders, however, would have none of it and rang up this morning to say that they would not be able to attend the lunch. Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj said that the decision not to attend the lunch was taken last evening as the atmosphere had become so vitiated that it would not appear well to go and have lunch with him, she said. Instead Swaraj and Jaitley held a press conference at lunch time and accused the government of unashamedly misusing CBI for political purposes.

They said the entire investigation in the Sohrabuddin encounter case was motivated with a political agenda in mind and was concocted. Relations between the Prime Minister and the principal opposition party had always been bad starting from the first budget of the last UPA government in 2004, where the BJP after boycotting the budget debate sought to give their suggestions in writing. Coming out of that meeting, senior leaders of the party had accused the Prime Minister of being rude.

Relations between them remained bad, with the PM coming under attack from the BJP for being a weak PM, an allegation which was taken as an election campaign slogan in the 2009 polls. After the polls, there was a definite thaw between the two especially during the debate over Women's Reservation Bill.