The government is set to introduce the lokpal bill in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, with a combative UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi coming out strongly in support of the government on this issue.
The draft was sealed late on Wednesday evening after the government removed minorities from the list of categories that will get 50% representation in the lokpal panel, as the Constitution did not allow reservation on the basis of religion.
The bill, to be taken up for discussion and passing on December 27, 28 and 29, will be tabled for the second time this year and the 10th time in 43 years. Proposing the creation of both the lokpal in the Centre and lokayuktas in states, it will replace the one that was tabled on August 4.
What’s more, the government is likely to move another bill to give the watchdog a constitutional status. On Wednesday, Gandhi vowed to fight for bill. At the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), she also mentioned the women’s reservation issue in the same breath.
Gandhi attacked the Opposition for its “obstructionist tactics” and also the critics – Anna Hazare and his team – for spreading “deliberate and malicious misinformation” against the government.
But Hazare continued his attack on the government for keeping the CBI out of the lokpal’s jurisdiction. “The government is cheating the people by bringing a weak bill to save corrupt politicians,” he said in his native village in Maharashtra, Ralegan Siddhi.
The Opposition, meanwhile, appeared divided on the issue. The BJP made it clear that it would move amendments to the official bill in case it did not address the demand for an independent CBI.
The real opposition to the bill, however, came from BJP-ally Shiv Sena, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.