A day before he gives a statement in Parliament on the ongoing impasse over the Lokpal Bill, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee ruled out replacing the government’s bill, preferring amendments to it. He also suggested including the lower bureaucracy — a demand of Hazare to break his fast — would create problems.
“We are not thinking of replacing it (official bill) with a new bill because it will take time. It will be better to have amendments. After the Standing Committee recommends the amendments, there will be an opportunity for Parliament to accept or reject it,” he told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN.
Saying he was “seriously worried” about Hazare’s health, he appealed to him to end the fast.
He dismissed a suggestion that the government is in a corner, saying some actions of the government may not be liked by the people. “It is nothing new but the current agitation is not good,” he said. Mukherjee replied in the negative when asked if the image of the government or PM had suffered.
On the demand of Team Hazare for including lower bureaucracy in the Lokpal legislation, Mukherjee said the Jan Lokpal wants to cover everyone right from Cabinet Secretary to railway gangman and postman. “It will be very difficult to manage. There is a question of practicality. Whenever you enact a law, it should be practical and it should be implementable.”
He also mentioned the complexities in the acceptance of another demand by Hazare that there should be Lokayuktas in all states. “...I wrote letters to all 28 CMs… Many said we already have it (Lokayukta Act) or that we will have our own Act,” he said. “We can make a model law.”
Mukherjee also underlined the pitfalls of having a body that was too powerful, saying that the purpose would then be lost.
Asked whether the amendments could substantially change the official bill, he said the legislation, which is under consideration of the Standing Committee, already has a large number of provisions of the Jan Lokpal Bill.