‘Debate on Lokpal in first half of Parl session’

A united opposition on Wednesday sought to corner the government in Parliament over the Lokpal Bill issue.

New Delhi: The government Wednesday said it wants to bring the bill to set up anti-corruption ombudsman, Lokpal,
in Rajya Sabha during the first part of the current Budget session of Parliament.

Replying to a notice given by Leader of the Opposition
Arun Jaitley seeking suspension of the Question Hour to resume
debate on the Lokpal bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K
Bansal said the government has studied the 187 amendments
moved by Opposition and allies in ruling alliance since debate
on the bill was adjourned after the House was adjourned sine
die on December 29.

"We want to bring the bill within this part of session
itself," he said. His statement marked a change of stand by
government as the minister on the session eve press conference
had said it would be difficult to take up the bill in the
first part due to financial business.

Bansal said the Lokpal and the Lokayukta Bills have been
kept on top of the list of business to be conducted during the
Budget session of Parliament.
Listing the priority for the government for first part of
the Budget session which ends March 30, he said the Motion of
Thanks to the President`s Address will be taken up first, followed by passing of General and Rail Budget and Lokpal Bill
will be taken up thereafter.

"Notwithstanding the primacy that is accorded to passing
of financial business, the government wishes to bring the
(Lokpal) bill for further discussion in this part of the
session," he said.

"The government has studied the amendments and we have
formulated our views," he said when Opposition members pressed
for a response to the amendments moved.
The Government is committed to put in place a "strong
mechanism to check corruption," Bansal said adding the UPA
government wanted to hold consultations with the Opposition on
the amendments moved and passing of the bill.

He disagreed with Jaitley who had cited rule 257 to state
that discussion on Lokpal Bill has to be taken up since it
remained inconclusive when the House was adjourned sine die.

"There are other bills which we deferred...which were not
concluded," Bansal said.