New Delhi: To ensure that the opposition does not block the Lokpal Bill, the government is finalising amendments that it will introduce to the anti-corruption bill that’s being debated today in the Lok Sabha.
The focus is largely on giving states the right to decide what sort of model to follow for the creation of an anti-corruption agency or Lokayukta. The Congress core committee – comprising the party’s most senior leaders – is meeting to discuss the opposition’s aggressive stand on this part of the Bill, expressed during the Lok Sabha debate this morning. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has already met with senior ministers like P Chidambaram and Salman Khurshid to discuss the accusation that the government is undermining the federal structure of the country. The Lokpal Bill, the BJP says, must provide an enabling framework but not impinge upon the right of states to form their own laws. In its current form, the Lokpal Bill will over-ride the acts passed by states like Karnataka and Uttarakhand to create Lokayuktas.
The government has a simple majority in the Lok Sabha, where it can push through the Lokpal Bill to create a nine-member national ombudsman. But in the Rajya Sabha, the UPA is in a minority. And another bill that seeks to provide constitutional status to the Lokpal needs a two-thirds majority – which cannot be managed without the support of opposition parties.