“We were keen on its passage but there were too many amendments”

As passage of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill suffered a setback in the Rajya Sabha, when it referred the Bill to a select committee, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Wednesday maintained that political parties were consulted before such a move.

Mr. Bansal brushed aside allegations that the government had sprung a surprise by taking the help of the Samajwadi Party to get the Bill referred to a select committee.

The government was keen on the passage of the Bill even on the last day of the budget session but there were a number of amendments that had to be considered, he said at a press conference here.

On the criticism of the UPA government by Team Anna for not bringing its version of the Bill in Parliament, Mr. Bansal said there had to be a “difference between mobocracy and democracy. Government should be sensitive and sensitised about views expressed outside the House but we cannot turn a proposal made by a handful of people into law.”

As discussions were on with several parties on amendments to the Bill, he said it was Naresh Aggarwal of the SP who suggested that the Bill be referred to select committee. There was nothing wrong in referring the Bill to the committee and it was in accordance with the law.

The names of select committee members were decided after consultations with all the parties concerned. While the BJP gave three names, the BSP, the SP, the DMK and the Trinamool Congress also gave names of their representatives.

As the AIADMK and the BJD individually did not qualify for membership of the select committee because of their strength in the Rajya Sabha, the government requested them to name their consensus candidate and the AIADMK nominated V. Maitreyan to the panel.

Mr. Bansal said the government was determined to pass a good Lokpal Bill with the consent of all parties. Discussions with the parties went on till May 21 and some agreements were reached.

To a query about the government's failure to get some of the key economic Bills passed in the budget session, the Minister insisted that the reforms agenda was very much on the cards and had not been put on the back burner.

“One must not presume that the government agenda on economic reforms is on the back burner. Lawmaking is a protracted process,” he said.

21 Bills passed

Noting that 21 Bills were passed in the budget session, he said only those legislation on which there was broad agreement with the Opposition were taken up.

For the record, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha passed 21 Bills during the two-part budget session, which yielded a total of 34 sittings of both the Houses.

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