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Cong open to compromise on passage of Lokpal Bill
KV Prasad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 15
The shock therapy dealt by the electorate in Delhi in the recent Assembly poll combined with the indefinite fast by social activist Anna Hazare appears to have jolted political parties, including the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, to work for the passage of the much-stalled Lokpal Bill.

With both the Houses of Parliament expected to adjourn tomorrow after paying tributes to Cabinet Minister Sis Ram Ola who passed away here, the Rajya Sabha will take up on Tuesday the Bill for consideration and passage that was moved by the Minister of Personnel V Narayansamy on Friday.

Political sources told The Tribune that efforts were on to arrive at an understanding on incorporating one of the two amendments that did not figure in the re-drafted Bill, raising hopes of setting up an institutional mechanism to fight graft in public life.

While moving the Bill, the minister said some 15 amendments were suggested by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee and offered the rationale behind the ones the government incorporated in it.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley maintained that the government incorporate the other two, including clearance of the Lokpal before transferring an investigating officer probing a graft charge and initiating an investigation against an accused on receiving a complaint instead of having a preliminary enquiry. Sources said that efforts were being made to take the first suggestion on board.

The BJP has made public its preparedness to pass the Bill even in the din provided all the 15 amendments are incorporated as against the 13 cleared by the Cabinet. Jaitley has argued that only the House was empowered to accept or reject any amendment suggested by its Select Committee.

Besides working to get the BJP on board, the Congressí parliamentary managers have to contend with the Samajwadi Party that has been disrupting proceedings and threatening to continue with it.

Its member Naresh Aggarwal maintains that having lost most of the recent Assembly elections, the government cannot make such a law. The Telugu Desam Party too is stalling the House raising slogans against proposed division of Andhra Pradesh.

Chairman Hamid Ansari, according to sources, has told the government that a discussion on the Bill should be held. Ansariís decision to adjourn the House on December 29, 2011 at midnight ending the marathon debate on the Lokpal Bill, as passed by the Lok Sabha, had attracted criticism.

Interestingly, a day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi sought all-round cooperation to get the Bill passed, Jaitley mockingly observed that after taking a knock in the elections, the party was looking for a conciliatory approach.

Referring to the delay, he said, the government took almost a year after the Select Committee had made its recommendations and insisted that the CBI would be under the government and not under the Lokpal.

Challenges before govt

  • The BJP has made public its preparedness to pass the Bill even in the din provided all the 15 amendments are incorporated as against the 13 cleared by the Cabinet
  • Congress parliamentary managers have to contend with the Samajwadi Party that has been disrupting proceedings and threatening to continue with it

Lokpal Bill weak: Kejriwal; go on fast, says Anna

  • The rift between Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal over the amended Lokpal Bill widened on Sunday with the AAP leader calling it "weak" and the Gandhian taunting him he should fast if there was any shortcomings
  • Kejriwal said he was saddened by Hazare's stand that he would break his fast once the Lokpal Bill is in Parliament warning that the proposed legislation will not prevent corruption but instead work to "protect the corrupt"
  • Hazare said if anyone feels there are shortcomings in the Bill after it is passed, they should fast for it

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