The possibility of the anti-graft lokpal bill being taken up by Rajya Sabha before the end of this session of Parliament on May 22 was revived on Thursday, with the government starting a fresh round of talks with Opposition leaders in the House.
Senior ministers Kapil Sibal, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Salman Khurshid and V Narayansamy met leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury to discuss changes in the lokpal bill.
Jaitley reiterated the BJP’s position on key provisions of the bill, which include removing the government’s control over the process for appointing and removing the lokpal, providing autonomy to the CBI and dropping the clause that makes it mandatory for the states to set up lokayuktas through the lokpal bill.
There appears to be political unanimity on the removal of this clause, with key UPA ally Trinamool Congress making it clear that it is ready to support the bill in Rajya Sabha if the lokayukta clause is dropped.
Yechury also stressed on freeing the CBI from government control.
But there has been no word from the Centre yet on the Opposition’s demands relating to the CBI’s functioning and the process for appointing and removing the lokpal.
The government is hoping to bring the lokpal bill in Rajya Sabha on the last two days of the session — May 21 and 22.
“We would like the bill to come to Rajya Sabha only after there is consensus. If the bill is brought and then consensus is sought in the House, it would lead to problems,” law minister Salman Khurshid said.