With the introduction of the contentious Telangana bill in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, the UPA government will now push for the passage of six anti-corruption bills which are on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s wish-list for the ongoing Parliament session.
The issue of graft has hit the Congress hard in recent assembly elections and the party is keen to correct the perception that it is “soft on corruption”.
The passage of six bills — including grievances redressal and whistleblowers protection bills – is part of Gandhi’s agenda to revive the party’s fortunes ahead of the coming Lok Sabha elections.
“We want to give the country anti-corruption bills which will transform the country, punish the corrupt and protect the honest,” Gandhi had said in his address at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting in Delhi on Jan 17.
But there are apprehensions in the Congress camp that the BJP will play spoilsport given that the general elections are just few months away now. “I think under such chaotic situation not other business other than the vote on account should be taken up,” BJP’s parliamentary party chairman LK Advani told reporters.
A section in the Congress is of the view that “one final push” for these anti-graft bills would send the message across to the voters that the govt had tried its best to complete the unfinished work in its fight against corruption.
Even for Telangana, Congress managers have to be on a firefighting mode as the bill is yet to be passed by the Lok Sabha and then has to cross the Rajya Sabha hurdle before the winter session ends on Feb 21.
The party appears unsure of that. “The passage of the bill in the current session is a million dollar question,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said but insisted that his party has “bitten the bullet” on the issue by introducing the bill.
“The opposition only appears” to be in agreement but is doing precious little,” he added.