Parliament to discuss Jan Lokpal Bill today

New Delhi: The stand-off between government and Anna Hazare today showed no signs of resolution, with Parliament failing to meet the activist`s key demand for a discussion on Jan Lokpal Bill as major political parties sparred on how it should be debated.The Lok Sabha, which was to discuss Jan Lokpal Bill and other civil society drafts, was caught in a political war between the Congress and BJP on procedural issues and now the matter is expected to come up tomorrow in a different form. Differences also cropped up in Team Anna over the 74-year-old Gandhian continuing his fast as his health caused considerable worry to his doctors.

But he refused to end his 11-day hunger strike demanding in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that Parliament pass a resolution, accepting three of his key demands - setting up Lokayuktas in States, covering entire bureaucracy and citizens charter.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who ruled out replacing the official Lokpal Bill, is now expected to make a statement in Lok Sabha tomorrow which will form the basis for a discussion.

However, earlier in the day, Opposition members gave notices for a discussion on the Lokpal issue under a Rule that entails voting while Congress members wanted it under a Rule that does not provide for voting. Opposition BJP foiled the ruling side`s attempt to get it discussed without voting that made the government to change its strategy to go for a debate in a different form.

Team Anna, which was expecting a Parliamentary vote today, reacted sharply, saying that he would end his fast only if three of demands are conceded or at least Jan Lokpal Bill be tabled in Parliament.

Congress member Rahul Gandhi also broke his silence and appeared to be critical of Hazare`s hunger strike to get his demands met though he felt the Gandhian has helped people articulate their disillusionment with corruption.

In a brief speech, Gandhi said democratic processes should not be weakened by `individual dictates` which could set dangerous precedent. Though he maintained that Lokpal alone was not enough to eradicate corruption, he favoured the ombudsman to be Constitutional functionary accountable to Parliament, an idea that generated a lot of debate.

As the ruling and Opposition were locked in a confrontation leading to a brief adjournment of Lok Sabha, Speaker Meira Kumar held discussions with leaders of both sides.

The principal Opposition maintained that either the Prime Minister or Leader of the House (Mukherjee) should make a statement on which a discussion could take place or pass a resolution as demanded by Hazare. It was decided at the meeting that Mukherjee will make a statement which will be followed by a discussion under a Rule that does not entail voting.
However, government sources did not rule out voting on a substantive motion if situation demands. Hazare himself wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in which he said `my inner conscience tells me that if there is a consensus on these proposals (three issues), then I will break my fast`.
He was conciliatory to the Prime Minister on the issue of personal attacks on him, saying `if me or my colleagues` words have hurt you or anybody else, I express my regrets. We don`t want to hurt anybody`.
Mukherjee, who is the government`s chief negotiator with the civil society, expressed concern over Hazare`s health and appealed to him to end the fast. However, he ruled out replacing the official bill on Lokpal, saying the Standing Committee, which is considering it, can suggest recommendations and it was for Parliament to either accept or reject them.

No comments:

Post a Comment