Following a day-long drama, the government and the opposition parties finally decided on Monday to refer the lokpal and lokayuktas bill to a fresh House panel for further scrutiny, virtually bringing Anna Hazare and his team back to life.
Within moments of the Rajya Sabha passing a government resolution to set up a 15-member select committee to examine the bill, Team Anna announced that Arvind Kejriwal would lead an indefinite fast from July 25. Hazare, however, will not fast this time.
The select committee will look at the four major issues of dispute over the bill and submit its report on the first working day of the last week of the monsoon session. HT had first reported on Thursday about the likelihood of the bill to be referred to a select committee.Earlier, the government’s last-ditch efforts to push the bill, which began last night with the circulation of three key amendments, came a cropper. Since even the UPA allies were not on board, the government quickly referred the bill to a select committee.
It was a desperate bid to avoid the repeat of a December 29-like situation when the government had to get the Rajya Sabha adjourned when the opposition insisted on voting on the bill. The reason: the ruling combine didn't have the numbers to sail through.
On Monday, there was trouble from the word go. When minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy stood up to move the bill in the evening, the Opposition, led by the BJP, protested against the amendment moved by Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agrawal, saying the government should not fire from the shoulders of friendly parties and should come clean on the issue.
The Opposition assault was led by leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley, who said, “I urge the Prime Minister and the government to be upfront and forthright and say do we want a Lokpal or we don’t.”
He was supported by Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury. Watched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the government managers quickly made Narayanasamy to move the resolution for forming a panel.
The members of the panel proposed by the government are Shantaram Naik, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Shadi Lal Batra (all Congress), Arun Jaitley, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Bhupendra Yadav (all BJP), KN Balagopal (CPM), Shivanand Tiwari (JD-U), Tiruchi Shiva (DMK), Satish Mishra (BSP), D Bandyopadhyay (Trinamool), Ramgopal Yadav (SP), DP Tripathi (NCP), V Maitreyan (AIADMK) and AK Ganguly (nominated).