The UPA government is set to accept a major demand of its allies Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and other opposition parties including BJP to drop the clause on mandatory setting up of Lokayuktas through the Lokpal Bill.
The Union Cabinet on Thursday is likely to take up the amendments to the bill passed by the Lok Sabha and which is currently stuck in Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks majority. The amendment may make it optional for the states to set up of Lokayuktas on the lines of anti-graft watchdog at the Centre.
The proposal is likely to be finalised at a meeting to be attended by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram, HRD minister Kapil Sibal and law minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday. The ministerial group will send its recommendations to the Prime Minister for final approval.
In the all party meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on March 20, the government had assured the opposition of considering their demands including dropping the clause for mandatory constitution of Lokayuktas in each state.
“We have come to a stage where views of various political parties have been heard, now the government will take a decision on how to pass this Bill with the consensus of all political parties,” Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office V Narayanasamy had said after the all party meeting.
The government managers are working to accept the biggest demand of the opposition camp and some of its own allies on Lokayuktas but will wait to gauge the mood in the upper house before conceding on more autonomy for the CBI and changes in the appointment and removal process for the Lokpal.
The government has heaved a sigh of relief with virtual isolation of Anna Hazare and his team within the political class, particularly, the growing rift between the BJP and the activists’ team.
The bill in its amended form is likely to be taken up by the Rajya Sabha when the Parliament meets in the second half of the budget session from April 23.
The government is prepared to take the bill to the Lok Sabha for the second time --- after its approval in December 2011 --- in case it can get it through in Rajya Sabha with a couple of unanimous amendments.