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Lokpal bill: SP remains stumbling block at all-party meet

December 16, 2013 18:23 IST

With the Lokpal Bill slated to come up in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, a near unanimity emerged at an all-party meeting in New Delhi on Monday, but United Progressive Alliance's outside supporter Samajwadi Party remained a stumbling block continuing its opposition to the anti-corruption measure.

With an aim of breaking the logjam over the bill, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari convened an urgent meeting which was boycotted by Samajwadi Party, saying it was opposed to it as the "whole decision-making process will come to a standstill".

The Bahujan Samaj Party, which has openly declared its support for the proposed legislation, and DMK were also not present at the meeting. BSP leaders later clarified that the meeting coincided with their national executive meeting here.

After the meeting, which lasted for over half-an-hour, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said all parties that attended the meeting on Monday were unanimous that the Bill be passed on Tuesday.

Asked about absence of representatives from some parties at the meeting, he said they were unable to attend it due to some reasons and the government will try and reach out to them.

"We discussed expeditious passing of the Lokpal Bill. All parties, except the Samajwadi party which was not present in the meeting, have expressed a desire that the bill should be passed under all circumstances tomorrow.

"All parties will continue to persuade the Samajwadi Party to join in, in passing of the bill and not to obstruct the functioning of the House," Nath told reporters after the meeting.      

During the discussions, sources said, National Democratic Alliance leaders agreed to passage of the Bill even amid the din, but were unanimous that marshals should not be used to usher out those opposing the measure in the House.

The opposition is learnt to have been working with the government on the issue of bringing certain amendments in the bill after the select committee recommendations.

Sources said that the government has agreed to BJP's demand that it would not transfer any CBI official probing cases referred to by the Lokpal, without the consent of the anti-corruption ombudsman.      

SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav, however, said his party was opposed to the bill and will continue with its stand.

"We are opposed to the Lokpal Bill. We are of the opinion that if this bill comes in force, no minister, no bureaucrat will sign on any file. The whole decision-making process will come to a standstill," he said.

BJP leader Prakash Javadekar hit out at Congress for showing double standards and alleged that the ruling party is not showing alacrity and intentions in persuading SP, which has supported their government for over 9 years.

"Today, the question is about the Centre's intent. If the Centre's intentions about Lokpal are clear, would they then not be in a position to influence Samajwadi Party, which has rescued them for nine-and-a-half years?

"When it is required, all these parties vote for them and only on issues like women's reservation, Lokpal, they oppose them. It is obvious that the Centre's intentions are not clear," Javadekar said.

Those who attended the all-party meeting included Arun Jaitley (BJP), Naresh Gujral (SAD), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), V Maitreyan (AIADMK), Derek O'Brien (TMC), N K Singh (JD-U), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D Raja (CPI) and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD).

Image: Members of the Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav did not attend the all-party meeting

Photograph: Reuters

 

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