NEW DELHI: The beleaguered United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government may have to beat another retreat as it may have to delete the entire reference to Lokayuktas in the Lokpal Bill, as UPA allies including the Trinamool, DMK and National Conference, on Friday reiterated their stand, and joined the Opposition led by the BJP, in demanding its removal from the Bill.
The all-party meet — leaders of Rajya Sabha drawn from various parties — convened by the PM, otherwise, ended on an inconclusive note as differences persisted on key provisions, and the government promised to iron out the differences in the inter-session period, when Parliament breaks for recess on March 30.
The meeting was called to break the logjam over the Bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha but got stalled in the Rajya Sabha. It was agreed that the legislation would be taken up for consideration during the second half of the Budget session.
“Our government stands committed to an effective Lokpal legislation... We look forward to benefitting from the wisdom and guidance of all leaders present here…,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in his observations at the meeting, attended by Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, and Salman Khurshid. The AIADMK (represented by V Maitreyan), the DMK (T Siva), Trinamool (Sukhendu Roy), the CPM (Sitaram Yechury), Samajwadi Party (Mohan Singh) and the BJP (Arun Jaitley) were on the same side of the fence in demanding deletion of all references to Lokayuktas from the Bill.
Trinamool’s Roy summed up the mood of these parties when he said: “We have opposed the inclusion of Lokayukta appointment in the Lokpal Bill in its present form as it will harm the federal structure,” he said. CPM’s Yechury seconded him and said the “setting up of Lokayuktas in states should be delinked from the Lokpal”.
Another issue was the appointment process of Lokpal, which the Opposition said was “skewed in the government’s favour”.