The spectacular debut of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi polls and his one-time mentor Anna Hazare’s fast 1,300 km away in Ralegan Siddhi prompted the government to pull out the Lokpal Bill from cold storage on Tuesday.
Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the Rajya Sabha was requested to “immediately” take up the bill that seeks to create ombudsmen to probe and prosecute corrupt government functionaries.
“Our intentions are clear,” he said, within hours of social activist Hazare beginning an indefinite hunger strike at his village in Maharashtra.
Minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy said, “I have given notice to chairman Rajya Sabha for taking up the Lokpal Bill… government is taking all sincere step to pass the Lokpal Bill.”
But it was uncertain if the bill would be passed in the ongoing winter session of Parliament. The bill has already been introduced 10 times in the Lok Sabha over the last 45 years, but never been passed by both Houses.
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is in minority in the Rajya Sabha.
Hazare and Kejriwal had tried to force the Centre to enact their version of the bill — Jan Lokpal — by going on a string of hunger strikes.
It was in the backdrop of street protests in Delhi and elsewhere that the Lok Sabha had passed the original version of the bill in December 2011. But a Rajya Sabha panel had recommended changes.
This means that once the Rajya Sabha approves the amended bill, it will have to go back to the Lok Sabha for approval to become a law.
“Yes, the process is there. It will have to be completed,” Shinde said, but gave no indication that the process would be completed this year.
The government had first moved the Lokpal Bill in 1968. It was cleared by the Lok Sabha, but lapsed when its term ended.