To end skirmishes and shooting at each other’s battlements by the pro and anti-Hazare camps, the government has decided to bring the lokpal bill in Parliament on December 20 — two days before the end of the winter session.
As the schedule stands now, both Houses of Parliament will get only three days to discuss and pass the bill, but government sources do not rule out the possibility of the session being extended.
As part of its give-and-take policy on the anti-graft watchdog, the government is likely to give in to the demand for bringing the Prime Minister — with safeguards, of course — and the lower bureaucracy under the bill.
It’s also open to the idea of allowing the lokpal supervise the CBI investigations into anti-graft cases. All the three issues that the government appears to have agreed to interestingly form a part of the dissent note given to the standing committee on law and justice by three Congress members—Meenakshi Natarajan, Deepa Dasmunshi and P T Thomas.
Since Prime Minister Mamnmohan Singh is leaving for Moscow on Thursday and return on Saturday evening, a special cabinet meeting will be convened on Monday to finalise the bill before it is presented in the Lok Sabha.
After Monday’s cabinet meeting, the steps look like this: the government will first take its allies into confidence on Tuesday and then go into the all-party meeting on Wednesday.
“We are hopeful that by next Tuesday, we’ll be able to bring the lokpal bill in Parliament for passing,” parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said.
UPA managers are hopeful that some opposition parties, which participated in Anna Hazare’s public debate on Sunday, will turn around and back the government, at least to an extent.
The UPA’s strategy is two-pronged. First, it will get three key legislations, including the judicial accountability bill, cleared in Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
Second, it’ll bring the bill before Parliament by December 20 and try to win over the opposition, arguing that it has done everything possible through consensus.
UPA managers feel such consensus would be able to blunt Anna Hazare’s campaign to a large extent, and take away the political support on which its seems to be riding high at the moment.