Ahead of the lokpal debate in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the Congress gave final touches to its strategy to ensure that the amendments moved by the opposition are defeated and the government’s version of the bill is passed in Parliament.
The discussions in the Lok Sabha will coincide with the beginning of social activist Anna Hazare’s three-day fast in protest against a “weak anti-corruption bill”.
While it is unlikely that the government will face major hurdles in ensuring the passage of the bill in Lok Sabha, the going would be tough in Rajya Sabha where the UPA is in minority and would require the BJP's support for its approval.
The BJP has already made it clear that the present version of the lokpal bill is unacceptable to them.
Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, however, called it a “strong” bill and a “fine piece of legislation”.
The Congress and its allies have issued a three-line whip to members to remain present in the Lok Sabha during the debate. Bansal said this was not a sign of nervousness but a legitimate Parliamentary exercise.
Bansal also appealed to parties not to move amendments but to cooperate in the passage of the bill.
Bansal also said Hazare’s fast at a time when Parliament is debating the bill would mean that he was not engaged in a crusade against corruption but a politically motivated campaign. He added that the process of law making was not a static exercise.
The BJP and the Left parties are set to bring amendments seeking administrative control of the lokpal on the CBI. The BJP is also opposed to the provision of minority reservation in the lokpal panel.
In Thrissur, Kerala, defence minister AK Antony said the government was open for discussions on all aspects of the bill.
He said, “The lokpal bill is now before Parliament. It is for Parliament to decide which agencies are to be included under lokpal. The UPA doesn't enjoy majority in the Rajya Sabha. The bill cannot become an act unless Rajya Sabha endorses it. I can't prejudge as to what will be the decision of Parliament on a bill it is considering.”