Government plans Lokpal bill in winter session; Anna threatens agitation

December 15th, 2011 - 10:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Anna Hazare New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) The government appears all set to pass the contentious Lokpal bill in parliament’s winter session, even as Anna Hazare Thursday threatened a slew of protests, including a sit in outside Sonia Gandhi’s residence and an indefinite hunger strike from Dec 27 if the anti-graft law is not passed.

He also gave a call for a ‘jail bharo’ agitation from Jan 1.

Stating that if time was an issue, the winter session should be extended, Hazare said there would be an indefinite fast either in Mumbai or Delhi from Dec 27 if the bill is not passed by Dec 22, the last day of the winter session. Besides, protests would be staged outside MPs’ houses, he said.

The government said a special cabinet meet is likely to approve the bill Sunday and it would be brought in the Lok Sabha for consideration and passage Dec 20. The government hinted that parliament may be extended for a day for the purpose.

A four-minister group headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will finalise the amendments to the bill for consideration of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who returns from Russia Saturday.

While Hazare said there would be a “swagat” (welcome) ceremony at the Ramlila ground if the Lokpal bill became effective, his team said it will take a final call on the protest Dec 21 depending on the “shape” of the Lokpal bill.

Anna’s demands include bringing the Central Bureau of Investigation and the lower bureaucracy under the Lokpal besides Lokayuktas in states and a citizen’s charter.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said: “The government needs to build a broad consensus among parties on the issue.”

Although the government said the bill could be passed this session, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said “there is no need to hurry through it as the government was working on the bill.”

But Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitely strongly pressed the bill be passed in the current session.

“The government must not delay the Lokpal bill. The bill must come in this winter session,” Jaitley said.

Anna Hazare’s warning came a day after the all-party meet failed to reach a consensus on the Lokpal bill that aims to tackle corruption in the country.

The 74-year-old Hazare said the bill had come in parliament eight times but has not yet been passed.

“This is not a question of Anna, this is a national question… It is a question related to the poor,” Hazare said, stressing the importance of his version of the Lokpal (ombudsman) bill.

However, Shiv Sena president Bal Thackeray came out strongly against the proposed Jan Lokpal bill, stating it could create a “Gaddafi” in the country.

“There is no need to create an impression among people that the Jan Lokpal bill will lead to ‘Ram Rajya’ in the country. There is a need to strengthen the existing anti-graft laws to end corruption in India,” Thackeray said in Mumbai.

Lok Jan Shakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan along with other MPs belonging to SC/ST categories demanded reservation for the community in the anti-graft ombudsman.

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