The government Monday said it was committed to the controversial Lokpal bill but would bring the legislation in the Rajya Sabha this session only if a consensus is reached on it.
Sources said four cabinet ministers – Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy – are holding informal consultations with various political parties to evolve a consensus.
As part of the exercise, the group has consulted the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the last two parties supporting the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) from outside.
The bill could not be passed in the upper house in the winter session in 2011 as the UPA does not have a majority there.”We are hopeful that the bill will be passed though there could be some differences,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told reporters.
He, however, said the government was not sure if the amended bill would be taken to the Lok Sabha as the ongoing budget session ends May 22 and the government wants to pass certain important bills before that date.The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) do not want the government to bring the legislation at all, saying it is being pushed under pressure from Anna Hazare.
Sources said while there is a general consensus on separating the Lokayuktas in states from the Lokpal bill, as demanded by the majority in the all-party meetings on the issue called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh March 23, sticking points like bringing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Group C employees under the anti-graft ombudsman remain to be resolved.
Sources said the government would like to take the proposed amendments to the cabinet before presenting the bill in the upper house.The sources hinted that since the upper house has already debated the bill in detail during the winter session last year, this time it would be a shorter discussion on the proposed legislation.