Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said the world's largest functional democracy was at crossroads and urged parliament to discuss "dispassionately" the Lokpal bill issue and arrive at a strong anti-graft law keeping in mind its "constitutionality, practicability and implementability".
Initiating the debate in the lower house during a historic special sitting Saturday, Mukherjee said the specific issues raised by fasting Anna Hazare relating to eradicating corruption are "important" and deserve the consideration of parliament.
He hoped that there could be a consensus in the house on the issues contained in the Jan Lokpal bill propsed by Team Anna so that the sense of the house could be conveyed to the parliamentary committee that is currently examining the government version of the Lokpal bill.
"The standing committee can take up their practicality, constitutionality and implementability," Mukherjee said.
"We are at the crossroads. This is a rare occasion when the proceedings (of the house) are drawing the attention of the entire nation and perhaps outside the nation also
He hoped for an objective discussion to "ensure we can resolve the impasse" and without compromising parliament's supremacy and the framework of the constitution.
Anna Hazare's fast for a stringent Lokpal bill entered its 12 day Saturday. Team Anna has made three demands: that the lower bureaucracy be brought under the purview of the Lokpal, that Lokayuktas in the states be brought under the Lokpal and that a citizen's charter for government departments be worked out.