Under pressure from Team Anna and Opposition on the Lokpal issue, the UPA on Monday closed ranks slamming the Jantar Mantar agitation and said that Parliament will decide on Lokpal, not Team Anna.
Taking a dig at Anna Hazare's Lokpal debate with politicians at Jantar Mantar, NCP leader Sharad Pawar said that it's good that the supremacy of Parliament was highlighted at Anna's fast venue.
"Good that all political parties at Jantar Mantar emphasised the importance of Parliament. We cannot overlook Parliament," Pawar said.
Asked about his views on the Jan Lokpal Bill being advocated by Anna, he merely said that everyone has the right to give his views and if someone gives a good suggestion, then it is welcome. "But Parliament is the place for final discussions and decision".
Accusing the Opposition of 'double standards', the Government asked why it was raising the Lokpal issue outside while Parliament is in session.
"In democracy there is a platform for discussion on every issue. Parliament is the best forum for discussion," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said.
"Raising issues outside Parliament shows opposition's double standards. This is not acceptable," she said adding "when we speak outside Parliament they say it is against parliamentary tradition."
National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah also slammed Anna's idea of a debate on Lokpal outside Parliament and said, "I request all Parliamentarians not to lower the esteem of the House. MPs should put their opinion on an issue in the House when Parliament is in session."
Even as the Congress chose to stay away, the Left, the BJP and other parties spoke out their stand on the Lokpal Bill, sharing stage with Anna Hazare at Jantar Mantar on Sunday.
BJP's Arun Jaitley, CPI's D Raja and CPM's Brinda Karat, Ram Gopal Yadav of Samajwadi Party and Leftist AB Bardhan were present at the debate.
Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid has defended the government and said that if he and his party leaders are liars, they must be thrown out of the nation.
"Rahul Gandhi has told me that bring a strong Lokpal Bill. If we are liars, then throw us out of the nation," he said.
Anna Hazare's token fast at Janta Mantar on Sunday saw 8 opposition parties on the dias. Pressure is clearly building on the government on Lokpal. The UPA by the look of it stands is isolated at the moment and virtually every opposition party used Anna's platform to embarrass the government.
The Union Cabinet meeting on Tuesday is expected to discuss the issue in view of the protests and since Anna Hazare is threatening to renew his agitation from December 27. UPA allies are expected to meet ahead of an all-party meeting called by the Prime Minister on Wednesday.
Sources say that the government has planned to include Group C bureaucrats and the Prime Minister but with riders under the Lokpal.
Government has also planned to table the Lokpal bill between December 19-22 in Parliament.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said, "The Congress party is totally supportive of a strong effective Lokpal and therefore the Prime Minister himself has called an all party meeting. He's meeting the allies today and tomorrow."
"Intent of whole Anna team, Ravi Shankar and Ramdev is political. Corruption not the issue. Attempt is to bring environment against congress. BJP's gameplan is to divert Sangh activities. Rahul made statement in Parliament that Lokpal should have constitutional status. They made fun of Rahul Gandhi. He has not made any other statement. Why are they targetting him? They see corruption only in Congress ruled states and not non-Congress ruled states," Singh said.
Congress minister Beni Prasad Sharma has also hit out on the Anna's agitation, saying Opposition is scared of Rahul Gandhi.
"Anna Hazare has become Oposition's spokesperson, especially RSS. Let them come to Uttar Pradesh, we will tackle them. What has Hazare done for the country? Congress will not be scared of him Congress is older than him," he said.
Reacting to UPA's allegations, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Opposition doesn't need lessons on decorum from the Congress or National Conference.
"We do not need lessons of maintaining Parliament esteem from Congress or Farooq Abdullah. There is nothing wrong in MPs going to Jantar Mantar to participate in a debate," he said.
Meanwhile, Anna Hazare on Monday said that youth are now gradually coming to dedicate their whole life for movement against corruption.
"Some have come up to work as volunteer as and when there is a movement. The third category of youth is of those who propose to continue their work and whenever there is a movement, they will mobilize people to participate in the movement," Anna said in Ghaziabad.
"Youth who dedicate their lives for the movement shall be given leadership training in Ralegan siddhi before they resume their work," he said.
"We have to continue development work but at the same time control corruption. Youth in huge numbers are coming forward to work against corruption," he added.