Congress, BJP race to claim credit for Lokpal Bill

Keen to burnish their anti-corruption credentials, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday jostled to get the Lokpal Bill passed in Parliament even as the support of the Samajwadi Party (SP) remained elusive.

The Congress had sought to appropriate the credit for Lokpal by showcasing vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s strong backing for the anti-corruption ombudsman, while Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha has given a notice to suspend the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday so that the Bill could be taken up at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the SP maintained that it would oppose the Lokpal Bill in Parliament tooth and nail. SP leaders also stayed away from the all-party meeting convened by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to break the logjam on the issue. Leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) also did not attend the meeting.

After the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath announced that all the parties, whose representatives were present at the meeting, were unanimous that the Lokpal Bill should be passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. Nath said the government was ready to extend the winter session of Parliament to pass the bill.

The BSP, led by former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, has already said that it would support the anti-corruption measure.

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is learnt to have conveyed his reservations on the bill to the government. Yadav believes that the bill, if passed in its current form, would give extraordinary powers to the Lokpal and make it difficult for the bureaucrats to discharge their duties.

The Congress got a shot in the arm when social activist Anna Hazare, who is fasting for a strong Lokpal bill in Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra, supported the government on the issue. Hazare’s one time disciple Arvind Kejriwal has strongly opposed the government move.

During the discussions, sources said, NDA leaders agreed for the passage of the Bill even amid the din, but were unanimous that marshals should not be used to usher out those opposing the measure in the House.

The opposition is learnt to have been working with the government on the issue of bringing certain amendments in the bill after the select committee recommendations.

Sources said that the government has agreed to the BJP’s demand that it would not transfer any CBI official probing cases referred to by the Lokpal, without the consent of the anti-corruption ombudsman.

Those who attended the all-party meeting included Arun Jaitley (BJP), Naresh Gujral (SAD), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), V Maitreyan (AIADMK), Derek O'Brien (TMC), N K Singh (JD-U), D Raja (CPI) and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD).

Comments (+)