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Anna steadfast, says no to govt's Lokpal Bill

Social activist Anna Hazare today warned the government its Lokpal Bill is not acceptable to him and he will go on a fast from December 27 to oppose it. The final lap

delhi Updated: Dec 19, 2011 16:53 IST

Social activist Anna Hazare on Monday warned the government its Lokpal Bill is not acceptable to him and he will go on a fast from December 27 to oppose it.

Hazare said he will start his protest if the Central Bureau of Investigation and the lower bureaucracy are not brought under the purview of the Lokpal. Supporters of a strong Lokpal bill will start a 'jail bharo' (court arrest) agitation across the country from January 1, he said. The activist though gave government a window of opportunity, saying if the bill was "good" he would give up his protest.

The government may extend the ongoing winter session of parliament by three days from December 27 in a bid to ensure that the crucial anti-graft Lokpal bill is considered and passed, highly placed sources said.

However, the final decision regarding this is likely to be taken at a cabinet meeting on Monday evening.

Top ministers and officials are trying hard to come out with an acceptable draft of the lokpal bill. After the cabinet meeting on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was closeted with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram, telecom minister Kapil Sibal, law minister Salman Khurshid and minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy and top officials to give final shape to the bill.

It is expected that the cabinet will clear the lokpal bill in the evening. Further on Tuesday, government is expected to seek waiver of rules to reintroduce bill in Parliament and begin dicussion in one of the House. If things go smoothly, it is expected that the government would like to at least one House to clear the bill and the other to begin discussion on it by Wednesday evening. By Thursday govt would like both the House to pass the bill acceptable to both the parties.

Informed sources said the amended bill is likely to be brought to the Lok Sabha on Tuesday and the government will make an effort to pass the legislation in the winter session that concludes on Thursday. Sources said the prime minister is expected to scrutinse the bill before it is placed for cabinet approval.

However, things may not be so smooth between the govt and Team Anna. If there are delays, the government is prepared to extend the ongoing winter session — scheduled to end on Thursday — first by a day, and if required any further, to offer to the Opposition the dates between December 27-29 to get the bill passed and prevent Anna Hazare from going on fast.

First Published: Dec 19, 2011 15:08 IST