New Delhi: In a fresh bid to end the deadlock
over Lokpal Bill, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called an
all-party meeting on Friday to discuss the proposed
legislation which could not be passed on the last day of the
Winter Session in Rajya Sabha amid pandemonium.
The meeting will be held at Singh`s residence at noon
on Friday. The Parliament will not meet on that day due to
festivals like Gudi Padwa and Ugadi.
Government is keen on passing the Lokpal Bill in the
Rajya Sabha even as the opposition and social activist Anna
Hazare have renewed pressure on the issue.
Hazare has said he will go on a fast from March 25 if
the Bill is not passed while BJP has said in the Upper House
that the debate and amendments to the Bill should be taken up
from where they were left on the night of December 29 when the
House was adjourned amid a din.
Lok Sabha has already passed the Bill.
Under the renewed effort, the government is planning to
drop the clauses in the Lokpal Bill pertaining to setting up
of Lokayuktas in states, a provision that faced stiff
opposition from friends and foes alike.
A senior minister had said recently that the government
was contemplating the move that would help clear the obstacles
in the way of its easy passage in Parliament as also dismiss
the opposition campaign that Congress was against the measure.
The fresh consultation is aimed at ensuring that the
anti-graft Bill is passed in the first part of the budget
session which ends on March 30.
The status of the Bill in Rajya Sabha is still unclear. Congress has maintained that amendments moved in the Winter
Session have lapsed and members will have to give fresh
notices on the Bill.
However, the opposition insists that government had
sought adjournment of the House on December 29 on the grounds
that there were as many as 187 amendments and it needed time
to go through it. Now that the government has had sufficient
time, the proceedings should begin from where they were left.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said
the government has studied the amendments moved by opposition
and UPA allies.
"We want to bring the Bill within this part of the
session itself," he said in Rajya Sabha last week.
His statement marked a change of stand by the government
as the minister had at a session-eve press conference said it
would be difficult to take up the Bill in the first part due
to financial business.