Entire Oppn, Trinamool reject govt's version

Lalu finds Manmohan most suited for Lokpal chair

It was an all-round criticism of almost all key provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 by the entire Opposition as well as Trinamool Congress, one of the partners of the ruling UPA coalition.

The parties took the government to task for tabling a Bill which it knows cannot pass the muster in its present form.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav asked the government to accept the amendments proposed by the Opposition to ensure a strong Lokpal. Dubbing the government version of the Lokpal bill weak, he said if the government does not concede the Opposition demands, it will be alleged that the anti-corruption ombudsman is under government control, as is the case with CBI.

Dara Singh Chauhan (BSP) wanted the CBI to be under the control of the Lokpal to free the investigation agency from the pulls and pressures of politics. He said the CBI had been misused by governments at the Centre. The CBI should be  independent.

Appointment of Lokayukta should be the discretion of states.

CPM leader Basudeb Acharia,who has sent notices for more than 30 amendments, said the Prime Minister should be under Lokpal.

Noting that the bill was full of loopholes, he demanded a strong law that envisages setting up of a powerful and effective anti-corruption mechanism but with some accountability. He said his party was not for autonomy of CBI and Lokpal. “They should be accountable,” he said.

CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta said his party was in favour of a strong Lokpal but not this bill. “This bill is nothing more than a cosmetic surgery and playing to the gallery. The government lacks political will to launch a crusade against corruption,” he said. “Let government answer why corporates and private sector have been left out? They are the ones who bribe ministers, politicians and bureaucrats. They fund election campaigns, pay for helicopter trips. Corporates evade tax and generate black money,” he charged.

Sharad Yadav JD(U), opposing the Lokpal bill which has been tabled in Parliament, cautioned against painting every government servant or legislator as corrupt. “If you bring a strong Lokpal bill, include lower bureaucracy and CBI under its ambit, we will definitely support it. Otherwise we will oppose it,” he said.

The NDA convenor said that the Bill, in its current form, was a “dacoity” on the rights of the states. “We reject the bill. Are you saying that the state governments do not function,” he asked. Yadav said the government should take bold decisions.

RJD leader Lalu Prasad demanded that the Bill be referred to parliamentary standing committee. “Don’t ignore amendments, send (bill) to standing committee, skies will not fall if it is not passed immediately. When I was on the standing committee, I tried to know the qualification for becoming a Lokpal. I cannot find anyone more suitable than you (Manmohan Singh). We will make you the Lokpal,” he signed off.

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