BJP wants Bill with Select Committee amendments

The government intends to table the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, although the Opposition parties have reservations about some of its provisions. The government plans to move 13 amendments to the Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha last year. The Bill has been at the centre of a national debate since social activist Anna Hazare launched an agitation over the issue in April 2011.

Two days after Mr. Hazare began a fresh indefinite fast in support of the Jan Lokpal Bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said on Thursday the Bill was a ‘priority’ for the government.

In response to questions, he dismissed the BJP’s charge that the government would try to curtail the winter session of Parliament to stall the anti-graft Bill.

The principal Opposition, however, charged the government with wanting to run away from Parliament, embarrassed as it is over a no-trust motion moved by some Congress MPs. The BJP maintained it had told the UPA managers that unless the government ensured passage of the Lokpal Bill, the party would not cooperate with it in getting approval for supplementary demands for grants for the general budget and the Railways.

At a news conference here, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said they were ready to pass the Lokpal Bill without debate if the government agreed to incorporate all amendments unanimously approved by the Select Committee.

They demanded that the amended Bill be passed in the Rajya Sabha on Friday and in the Lok Sabha next Monday.

Barring the Samajwadi Party, all major Opposition parties are on the same wave length on the issue. The matter has assumed urgency as this is the penultimate session before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Rajya Sabha proceedings have been disrupted every day since the beginning of the session on December 5, and by several accounts it may not function on Friday.

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