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All-party meet on Lokpal Friday, Government hopeful of consensus

Thursday March 22, 2012 07:47:26 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: The government is hopeful of arriving at a consensus on the Lokpal bill at an all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with leaders of the upper house of parliament on Friday.

Team Anna, which campaigned for passage of the bill, however, said they had "no hope" after what happened in the Rajya Sabha at the end of the winter session.

The bill could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha during the winter session last year due to the chaos that marked the debate which continued till midnight and the bill was not put to vote.

The opposition had then charged the government of running away from voting.

Government sources said the meeting is required as the United Progressive Alliance lacks majority in the upper house.

Sources said the government may agree to some amendments suggested by the opposition to ensure smooth passage of the legislation.

Team Anna member Manish Sisodia, talking to IANS, said they had no hope, "but it was one last chance for the government to prove its seriousness for the anti-graft legislation".

"Considering whatever happened last year (at the end of winter session), we don't see any hope that government will do anything," Sisodia told IANS.

"Still we see it as a last opportunity for the government if they want to do something and they believe in people's power," he said.

Significantly, UPA ally Trinamool Congress had supported the bill in the Lok Sabha but later opposed it in the upper house asking for deletion of a clause allowing setting up of Lokayuktas in states.

In order to build pressure on the government, Anna will sit on a day-long dharna Sunday.

The bill was introduced after he launched a major anti-corruption movement and fasted for 13 days last year.

The activist wants the Central Bureau of Investigation and lower bureaucracy to be brought under the anti-graft ombudsman.

The bill is expected to be brought to the upper house in the second half of the ongoing budget session April 24-May 22 after the general budget is passed.

Sources said the bill will be brought only if a consensus emerges on it.



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