Lokpal Bill: Government changes strategy

India FlagWith the BJP, Left and Team Anna disappointed with the government over the Lokpal Bill. The Parliament has extended its session till December 29, with the pressing demand of Anna the Bill be passed in this session of the Parliament itself.

The Cabinet has reviewed and given its approval subsequent to the go ahead given by the Prime Minister to a closing cabinet note on the provisions of the Lokpal Bill bringing the prime minister under the anti-graft ombudsman with riders but excluding the CBI and the lower bureaucracy. The anti-graft bill is expected to be tabled in the Lok Sabha on Thursday and in the Rajya Sabha on Friday. The draft which was cleared by the Union Cabinet at a meeting has left both the BJP and the Left reportedly unhappy.

BJP has toughened its stand on the Lokpal issue and has declared that they would go up against the government Bill if it is at variance from what they had wanted from the government in the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

The government has formulated a strategy to make the passage of the bill smooth by crafting the Lokpal as a statutory bill as then it would only require only a simple majority to go through in both Houses. The government feels that to garner the support of the two thirds majority, the Opposition should be brought aboard which may require more discussions and modifications to the bill. This session is unlikely to see a separate bill to grant constitutional status to Lokpal.

The government’s Lokpal version has already been dismissed by the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, mainly because the CBI has been kept out of the ambit of Lokpal. The 74-year-old activist has slammed it as government’s betrayal and said he would fast for three days, starting December 27.  Many see it as descend to his earlier stand as he had earlier stated that he would go on an indefinite hunger strike.

According to the new draft, the CBI will act as the Lokpal’s investigating arm, but the reins will remain with the government. The lower bureaucracy will come under the Lokpal, but the Central Vigilance Commission will be the ombudsman’s investigating arm for this class of employees.

Lokpal Bill: Government changes strategy

Report by Radhalakshmi R