Lokpal Bill gets Parliament nod

Lokpal Bill gets Parliament nod

Parliament on Wednesday passed the Lokpal Bill, paving the way for establishing an anti-corruption ombudsman with powers to keep a close eye on the Prime Minister’s Office.

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha without much discussion and amid a walkout by members of the Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011, was passed after amendments to the legislation were adopted by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav made strong appeals to the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and NDA Working Chairman L K Advani to withdraw the bill which he contended was “dangerous for democracy and its passage would lead to chaos in the country”.

The Lokpal Bill, which was at the Centre of the anti-corruption agitations launched by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal two years ago, seeks to establish an anti-corruption ombudsman at the Centre and asks states to establish Lokayuktas within a year’s time from the date of notification of the law. The format of the Lokayukta will be left to the state assemblies to decide.

The bill was first passed by the Lok Sabha at the fag end of the winter session of 2011, but not by the Rajya Sabha, where it was debated but the House was adjourned before voting on it. A select committee of the Rajya Sabha suggested changes in the bill, which were incorporated and approved by the Union cabinet.

The bill became a rallying point for major political parties after the stunning performance of Kejriwal’s one-year-old Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi Assembly elections. Sensing the mood against the political class, the BJP and the Congress spoke in one voice in favour of the bill and got it passed in Parliament.

As the bill was taken up in the Lok Sabha, political parties jostled to take credit for the anti-corruption measure. Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said if anybody who deserves credit for the bill, it was the “old man” who has been fasting, a reference to Anna Hazare who has been fasting for the past nine days pressing for its passage.

From the treasury benches, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi urged all the parties to pass the bill. “We have the chance to make history,” he said.

Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said he supported the bill with a tinge of sadness as he believed that such measures would not end corruption but only destroy democracy.

Bahujan Samaj Party leader Dara Singh Chauhan said the clamour to claim credit for the Lokpal Bill was also a form of corruption.

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