NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called an all-party meeting on Friday to evolve consensus on the Lokpal-Lokayukta
Bill, which got derailed by an unprecedented number of amendments moved by the Opposition parties in Rajya Sabha in the last session of the Parliament.
Only the Rajya Sabha leaders have been called for the meeting, expected to be held at the PM’s residence at 12 noon on Friday. The Parliament is not meeting on that day due to Gudi Padwa and Ugadi festivals.
Though Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal tried hard to explain that the amendments had “lapsed” as a result of the proroguing of the House after the winter session of the Parliament, the regional parties are unlikely to give up this opposition to the Bill.
If Bansal’s coordination meeting is taken as an indicator, the allies are not going to fall in line easily. The TMC and NCP leaders skipped the UPA meeting on Wednesday. Some of the amendments are for bringing the Prime Minister’s Office entirely under Lokpal, excluding Lokayukta from the Bill, abolishing minority quota and including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha as one of the members of the Selection Committee. The government is understandably keen on passing the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha as the Opposition and social activist Anna Hazare have renewed pressure on the issue. Hazare again threatened to go on a fast from March 25 if the Bill is not passed.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley has said in the Upper House that the debate and amendments to the Bill should be taken up from where they were left on the night of December 29 when the House was adjourned amid a din.
The Lok Sabha has already passed the Bill. Under the renewed effort, government may drop the clauses in the Lokpal Bill pertaining to setting up of Lokayuktas in states, a provision that faced stiff opposition from friends and foes alike.
A senior Congress leader indicated that the government was contemplating the move that would help to clear the obstacles in the way of its easy passage in the Parliament. This, the party hopes, will help dismiss the Opposition’s campaign that the Congress was against the Bill.