Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, the second-biggest ally in the UPA, has given last-minute jitters to the government on the lokpal bill by moving amendments. It had voted to pass the bill in Lok Sabha on Tuesday but now wants clauses related to setting up of lokayukta in states removed.
It also wants the bill to be renamed as the lokpal bill instead of the present Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill 2011. Banerjee reportedly feels the proposed law is "forcing" the states to set up lokayuktas.
The latest salvo from Trinamool comes after it stalled implementation of the FDI in retail policy and passing the pension fund bill.
A late-evening meeting on Wednesday between Trinamool leaders and finance minister Pranab Mujkherjee failed to break the logjam. Trinamool MPs Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Derek O Brien told HT, "We are going ahead with our three amendments."
Government managers are hopeful of a patch-up that may see Trinamool withdrawing its amendments on Thursday before passing of the bill.
"The Constitution allows the states to set up service regulations for its employees. This bill not only violates the spirit of federalism, it also goes against the constitutional proprieties," Roy said.
In the meeting, the government reportedly offered to issue a statement to clarify the lokayukta issue but Trinamool pointed out that section 64(1) of the lokpal bill says “as from the commencement of this Act, there shall be established in a state…"
Roy said, "The word 'shall' makes setting up Lokayuktas mandatory for the states."
Even as the government added a proviso to this clause on Tuesday saying "the provisions shall be applicable to the states which have given prior consent to this act", Trinamool feels it complicates the issue.
Accepting Trinamool's amendments will mean the bill will not be passed during winter session.