Lokpal Bill tabled in Lok Sabha

9:23 PM, Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

All party meeting New Delhi:  After two adjournments of the Lok Sabha, the government finally tabled the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill in Parliament today, well past the scheduled time of 2 pm. The BJP, Anna Hazare’s team of activists, and Lalu Prasad Yadav have all rejected it for different reasons. The Bill will be debated on December 27 after which it will be put to a vote. What may have privately satisfied the government was the point that several politicians made – that the Bill must not be rushed through to satisfy the deadline or demands of Anna. “543 members of this House will decide on what is fate of the Lokpal.” said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. “All of you will collectively decide what you want to have. If you feel it is not necessary, we will not have it.

Team Anna, which has devoted this year to championing the cause of a strong Lokpal Bill now finds itself pointing out that earlier versions of the Bill prepared by the government were more effective. 74-year-old Anna reiterated this evening that the government has no intent of checking corruption. Like the BJP, he objects to the fact that the Lokpal Bill does not hand over administrative control of the CBI to the new ombudsman or Lokpal. Without this, his group says, the CBI will continue to be influenced in its investigations by the government. Anna’s fast begins on December 27 in Mumbai, when Parliament will debate the Lokpal Bill. “Sonia Gandhi says the Bill is strong. If it is so, let her come out and debate with us in front of media. Let people see it,” he challenged.

For today, though, the government’s main source of embarrassment was its public fumbling of the reservation issue for the nine members of the Lokpal or ombudsman agency. Last night, the government had removed the term ‘minorities’ where the Bill asks for a 50 per cent quota for the Lokpal. That’s because the Constitution does not allow for reservation on the grounds of religion. But after Lalu led a raucous protest over this in the morning, the Lok Sabha was adjourned for a few hours. Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister used the break to meet with senior ministers like Mr Mukherjee and Salman Khurshid. They decided the minority quota would be reinstated through a correction in the langua

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