New Delhi: Amid protests and criticism from the Opposition parties and the civil society, the UPA government on Thursday tabled the controversial Lokpal Bill, aimed at curbing corruption in public life, on the floor of the Lok Sabha.
The much-awaited bill was introduced in the Lower House by Minister of State (MoS) of Parliamentary Affairs, Prime Minister`s office, Personal, Public Grievances and Pension, V Narayaswamy.
After its tabling in the Lok Sabha, the anti-graft legislation will now be discussed during Parliament`s extended session on December 27.
The 64-page draft bill is set to become a law following Parliament’s nod to it as the 116th amendment to the Constitution.
The bill has solid backing of UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has urged the Opposition and the civil society to accept the anti-graft legislation drafted by the government.
The Winter Session, originally scheduled to end today, will now reconvene on December 27-29 to discuss the bill.
However, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, two parties supporting the ruling UPA from outside, have struck a discordant note, saying the bill would make the local police very powerful.
Meanwhile, Anna, who has already threatened to go on a three-day fast, has rejected the bill as a betrayal of the people and said the legislation would not provide for a strong anti-graft institution.
"People will teach a lesson to this government one day," Anna said yesterday in his Ralegan-Siddhi village in Maharashtra.
He wondered how the proposed bill could be described as strong when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was being kept outside the ombudsman`s ambit.
Taking on Anna, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi also said that there was a "deliberate and malicious misinformation" campaign that the Congress was not tackling corruption.
She listed bills on protection of whistleblowers, enhancing judicial accountability, the citizens right to grievance redressal, and the Lokpal bill which will be taken up for discussion from December 27-29.
Stating "she was ready to fight for the anti-graft Lokpal and women`s reservation bills in the Lok Sabha" Gandhi dismissed as "rumours" that there were differences between the government and the ruling party.
She urged Congress MPs to be prepared for the battle in the house.
Describing the Lokpal bill as a “pathbreaking" legislation, the UPA chairperson urged the opposition parties and anti-corruption activist Hazare to accept it.
The government draft bill brings the Prime Minister under Lokpal but leaves out two other key demands of the activist for inclusion of the CBI and the lower bureaucracy.
Interestingly, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal, who are supporting the UPA government from outside, have opposed the legislation.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad joined SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in saying there should be "consensus" before the bill is brought to Parliament and a decision on such a major issue could not be taken without giving it a thought. The SP has 22 MPs while the RJD has four MPs.
With PTI Inputs