The UPA pride will be at stake when the Rajya Sabha takes up the Lokpal Bill for consideration on Thursday. In the numbers game, UPA is well short of simple majority in the Rajya Sabha. While the government tries to manage the required numbers, Trinamool's opposition to a provision in the bill on setting up of Lokayuktas in the states and its intention to move amendment has become a big headache for the UPA.
Opposition BJP has said that the government has failed to keep their own allies together and so have no moral authority to stay in power. Thus the UPA pride is at stake when the bill comes up in the Rajya Sabha today. The government tried to reach out to its constituent to ensure passage of the crucial legislation but it difficult to say how much success they got. According to some media reports Mamata-led Trinamool Congress is still firm on its position on Lokayuktas in the states.
After the failure to get the constitutional amendment bill passed in the Lok Sabha, failure in Rajya Sabha can be quite embarrassing for the government.
The government must be hoping that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) will walkout from the House as they did on Tuesday and help in the passage of the bill.
The BJP must be counting on the Left, the SP, the BSP and, possibly, the All India Trinamool Congress, joining hands with it on amendments on three key issues: making CBI independent of the government, making state lokayuktas optional, not mandatory, and broadening the selection process of the lokpal.
While Left leaders requested SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to vote against the bill, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee requested him against it. BSP's Satish Mishra is also believed to have spoken to a top Congress leader over phone.
While BSP leaders say there is no "clarity" yet, there is buzz that Mayawati wants a walkout.
The numbers in the Rajya Sabha are very delicately poised. The UPA has 94 and the NDA and Left have 89. If the UPA adds independent and nominated MPs, it reaches 108. If the NDA-Left add AGP, ADMK, TDP, BJD and INLD to their tally, they reach 107. But, SP, BSP and RJD can save the government by walking out, as they can bring down the required number for passage from 122 to 109.
If SP and BSP oppose the government, the bill may fall. Moreover, if AITC backs an amendment or walks out, the bill may be in danger again.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley gave a veiled message: "All political parties will be watched keenly (by people) to test if they are just willing to proclaim but unwilling to strike."
NDA convener Sharad Yadav rued the BSP and SP's unexpected stand in the Lok Sabha.
The bill may get stuck if the Rajya Sabha accepts any amendment that the Lok Sabha bill did not, necessitating the bill being sent back to the Lok Sabha.
If the Lok Sabha rejects the amendment, only a joint session can get the bill passed. Else, it goes into cold storage.