Stormy monsoon session starts today; Lokpal Bill to be introduced in Lok Sabha by August 3

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said bringing the office of Prime Minister under the ambit of the Lokpal would “not be advisable.”

The government took the decision after “taking all factors into account,” Dr. Singh told journalists in the Parliament House.

Earlier he had said he was not opposed to the office of Prime Minister being brought within the Lokpal's purview.

“Well, our government has taken a view taking all factors into account. It would not be advisable to bring the Prime Minister within the purview of the Lokpal, except when he demits office,” Dr. Singh said.

His remarks come on the eve of the monsoon session of Parliament. The Lokpal Bill will be introduced in the Lok Sabha by August 3.

Referring to social activist Anna Hazare's threat to go on fast from August 16 in protest against a “weak” Lokpal Bill, he said the Bill's fate would be decided by Parliament. “As you know, we are ready with the Lokpal Bill and its fate will be decided by Parliament. In a democracy, Parliament is a sovereign body; it should be allowed to function and discharge its duty.”

Indications from the Opposition signal a stormy Parliament session as it plans to corner the government on 2G scam, price rise, Telangana, relations with Pakistan, terrorism and an ailing Air India.

The Prime Minister said the Opposition too had “many skeletons in its cupboard.” “We are not afraid of discussing issues of corruption. The Opposition also has too many skeletons in its cupboard. We are not afraid of discussing any issue,” he said when asked whether the government apprehended a tough session.

Price rise, corruption

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said it would be seen in Parliament “who attacks whom” in the five-week session. “We would like the House to function so that the issues are discussed. The issue of price rise concerns the common man; the issue of corruption too is there and so is the issue of internal security relating to Mumbai blasts. The situation in Telangana has taken a big shape, Naxalism is raising its fangs. Air India is in a bad shape,” she said.

The Opposition had given notice on international issues such as the pre-conditions set by the Nuclear Suppliers Group and attacks on Indian fishermen in the Sri Lankan waters.

While the Opposition had no differences on the issues, there appears to be a divergence of the modalities, with the Left and few other parties deciding to give a notice to the Speaker on moving an adjournment motion on price rise.

“This is one way of Parliament expressing how concerned it is on a burning issue that it has decided to keep aside all other business and discuss price rise that is affecting everyone,” CPI Parliamentary Party leader Gurudas Dasgupta told The Hindu.

The CPI leader said he spoke to leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Biju Janata Dal, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and all agreed to give similar notices. While the notice on Monday might not be taken up as the House was expected to adjourn in memory of Bhajan Lal, who passed away recently, the procedure would be repeated the following day, Mr. Dasgupta said.

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