The union cabinet is expected to meet in New Delhi on Sunday evening to discuss the Lokpal and the food security bills, official sources said. The cabinet meeting, earlier scheduled for Monday, will now be held Sunday evening, the sources said last evening.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on his way back from Russia on Saturday, said the government hopes to bring the Lokpal bill to the cabinet by Sunday. "We are working day and night to give shape to the bill and it is my hope that by tomorrow we should be able to bring the bill to the cabinet," the Prime Minister said.
Officials in the food and consumer affairs ministry said the food security bill is also expected to be taken up by the cabinet on Sunday.
Just a day before the UPA cabinet discusses the new lokpal draft bill — following a broad consensus reached among the stakeholders — the prime mover for the bill, Anna Hazare, raised the stake by one more notch.
Accusing the government of betraying the people, Hazare wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and reiterated his demand for including the citizens’ charter in the draft and bringing the CBI under the functional control of the watchdog.
But the cabinet has already approved a separate bill for the citizen’s charter and is likely to keep administrative control of the CBI out of the proposed lokpal.
Hazare also said in Bangalore on Saturday that if the government did not meet his demands, he would go ahead with his indefinite fast from December 27 and initiate a ‘jail bharo’ agitation from December 30. “Even if I die for this important work, I don’t care.”
The government is thinking of extending the winter session of Parliament by a few days to clear the bill. The cabinet is expected to consider the draft bill that takes into account the views of various political parties today.
The bill may be introduced in Parliament by Tuesday. “Anna will be in the visitor’s gallery when the government tables the lokpal bill in Parliament,” said his aide Suresh Pathare.
(IANS + Agencies)