As pressure mounts on the UPA government to pass the Lokpal Bill in the winter session of Parliament, sources now say that the bill is likely to be tabled in Parliament on Wednesday for discussion. Not just that, sources also say that Parliament may have an extended session from December 27 to 29 to pass the Lokpal Bill.
Ahead of the Cabinet meeting on the Lokpal Bill on Monday, Opposition leaders LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee over a possible extension of the winter session of Parliament so that the Lokpal Bill can be tabled and passed.
Minister of State in the HRD Ministry D Purandeswari assured that the government is committed to getting a strong Lokpal Bill passed. "The Lokpal Bill will come in Parliament and then deliberations will happen with various parties expressing their views," she said.
She also said that the Prime Minister may be included in the Lokpal Bill, but with riders. "If you remember the Prime Minister had said he wants to be included under the ambit of the Lokpal, safeguards are important, so it's likely," she said.
National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah has said, "There should be a strong Lokpal Bill, but shouldn't be a super government and above Parliament. The draft has been prepared and will be discussed in the Cabinet."
Congress spokesperson and Standing Committee Chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi also said, "We are not here to offer any carrot, it's a piece of legislation, and it needs to be passed in Parliament. Please wait for the bill to be tabled in Parliament."
The BJP, however, said that the government seems confused over the Lokpal Bill. "The government is confused, they take one step forward, two step backwards. We want a strong Lokpal Bill to be passed in the current session. I don't know what this government plans to do," BJP leader Balbir Punj said.
The options that the government now has are:
Firstly, the government may table the Lokpal Bill in Parliament on Tuesday or Wednesday, begin a discussion right away and try and pass the bill this week itself.
A second option is that the bill be tabled on Tuesday or Wednesday, then depending on the mood in Parliament, extend the session to the next week for debate and passage of the bill.
Alternatively, the government may after tabling the bill in Parliament on Tuesday or Wednesday, call for a special extended session in early January for a debate or else once the bill is tabled, the government won't push for a debate till a broad consensus has been arrived at within Parliament.
Cabinet meet on Monday
Meanwhile, as Anna Hazare steps up the attack on the government threatening to go on a fast from December 27 and a jail bharo agitation, the government, sources say, may meet most of his demands.
The Union Cabinet will meet on Monday evening to discuss the Lokpal Bill. Sources say that the UPA, under pressure, has proposed that the Prime Minister be included in the bill with riders, that Group C bureaucrats under the Chief Vigilance Commissioner be supervised by Lokpal and that the CBI director be appointed by a panel comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Lokpal. Sources say the government has also proposed that Lokpal members get a vigilance clearance from the CVC.
Sources say the government is also proposing nearly 50 per cent reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes in the Lokpal Bill and that the Lokpal monitors the CBI in cases of corruption it refers to the investigative agency.