Lokpal Bill set to collapse in Rajya Sabha?

In the 243-member Rajya Sabha, Congress and its allies do not have a majority with its number placed at 92.

Last Updated: Dec 29, 2011, 18:46 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The wait for the Lokpal Bill to become a reality may just get longer. According to reports, the anti-graft bill is all set to collapse in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday and the passage of the bill is unlikely in this session as the government may not be able to muster up enough numbers.

Hectic parleys have been going on behind the scenes and the government is leaving no stones unturned to make a fight of the passage of the bill.

The allies and the Opposition alike have serious reservations on the provisions of the Lokpal Bill.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely today said that the Parliament has to understand that the ‘sense of the nation’ which wants a strong Lokpal Bill. He accused the government of creating a non-workable constitutional cocktail.

“We want that the Lokpal Bill be passed but the government should accept the amendments passed by the Opposition. We want a strong Lokpal Bill,” he said, adding, “if we miss this opportunity then it would be more difficult for the coming generations.’

“This government is trying to bring a constitutional cocktail. You want the article 253 then in the concurrent say that the powers are through Art 252…you can’t dismantle the entire authority of the state, the Centre can only be an interloper,” he pointed out.

The Samajwadi Party have their own concerns. Their contention is that the Lokpal will be “misused” by the respective governments like the CBI. As per sources five SP MPs in the Upper House are likely to vote against the Lokpal Bill. The RJD with 4 MPs may also vote against the Lokpal Bill.

As per sources, the Congress is in talks with the BSP who hold the key with 18 MPs. BSP leader SC Mishra met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee amid efforts to rope in allies. According to sources the BSP will not stage a walkout.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad also met Pranab Mukherjee.

In the voice voting which took place in the Lok Sabha on the Lokpal Bill, the SP, BSP and the RJD had staged a walk out. Though the bill was passed in the lower house, the amendment to grant it the constitutional status fell through as the ruling combine could not muster up the numbers.

Apart from the Opposition the allies of the UPA like the Trinamool Congress too have reservations on the provisions of the Lokpal Bill. Hardening its stand, the TMC threatened that its MPs will vote against the government if Part III of The Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 which deals with setting up of Lokayuktas at state level is not deleted.

As per a media report, TMC has made its stand absolutely clear to the government that it will move amendment to delete the provision for setting up Lokayuktas at the state level. Trinamool Congress has six members in the Rajya Sabha.

“This bill will affect the autonomy of the state,” is the line taken by the TMC. “No change in stand on moving amendments," Trinamool Congress leader and Union Minister Mukul Roy said sometime back.

The bill passed by Lok Sabha two days ago has provisions for setting up of Lokayuktas in the states with the consent of state governments.

It is also being reported that the main Opposition BJP may back some of Left’s demands.

At the end it all boils down to numbers game. The government is already short of numbers in the upper house and would find it very difficult to get the bill passed.

In the 243-member Rajya Sabha, Congress and its allies do not have a majority with its number placed at 92. The ruling party needs the support of the MPs of the parties supporting the government from outside. At least a walk out by them could help the government but not a vote against. With the logjam continuing, serious concerns are being raised over the fate of the bill`s passage.

Meanwhile, Team Anna met the national capital today to chalk out their future strategy. They said that the social activist Anna Hazare had to end his fast in Mumbai yesterday as his health was deteriorating.