With social activist Anna Hazare preparing to begin his third round of agitation for a stronger Lokpal in New Delhi, Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has requested the Centre to incorporate provisions in the proposed Lokpal Bill for a stronger and effective Lokayukta, the anti-corruption ombudsman in the state.
"We want a stronger Lokayukta in the state but as the Parliament is presently considering a legislation on the Lokpal, there should be a provision in the same Bill for a stronger Lokayukta in the states," he said on the eve of the state legislature's winter session, which begins on Monday.
Hazare has pointed out that the Lokayukta in Maharashtra is a toothless body and does not have any powers. He had asked the government to make it stronger to be able to deal with corruption cases. The activist had even threatened to go on a hunger strike if the state government fails to bring in legislation for the same in the winter session of the assembly.
"The Parliament is considering whether to create a Lokpal by way of an amendment in the Constitution or by enacting a law. We have requested that there should be provisions in the same system so that all states have a strong Lokayukta, with the same powers," said Chavan.
The chief minister said that he had discussed the issue with Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who heads the Parliament's standing committee, which is presently discussing the proposed Lokpal Bill. "According to Singhvi, there is no technical problem in making such a provision. This can help us to have an effective Lokayukta in the state," said Chavan.
The chief minister, who completed one year in office last month, will also have to deal with an Opposition that is trying to portray him as a weak chief minister.
The Opposition is also creating a furore over the donations received by public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal's trust from an infrastructure company.
Refraining from making a statement, Chavan said he had sought details in this matter.
The Congress and the NCP ministers in the Chavan Cabinet are locked in a bitter tussle and are often seen indulging in a slugfest; the Opposition will try to corner the government on this issue, especially the ongoing verbal duel between the Congress' minister, Narayan Rane, and the NCP ministers RR Patil and Bhaskar Jadhav.
"This shows that there is a lack of coordination between the two principal partners in the coalition government and no one listens to the chief minister," said Eknath Khadse, the leader of the Opposition. Chavan said he had advised his ministers not to target each other personally. "I have told my ministers to speak on the policies of their parties and not to target people."