Delhi: A confrontation on the Lokpal Bill is expected to start in
Parliament with the BJP demanding a discussion on Tuesday on the issue,
which the government plans to take up in the second part of the Budget
Session beginning April 24.
This became clear with parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal
saying that the priority for the government is to get the vote on account
passed by March 30 and bills like the Lokpal Bill will be taken up in the
Close on the heels of Bansal's statement, leader of the opposition in the
Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said he would move a motion for suspension of
Question Hour in the Upper House on Tuesday for discussion on Lokpal Bill.
Discussion on the motion of thanks to the president for her address to
Parliament is on the agenda for Tuesday.
While the Railway Budget is scheduled for March 14, Economic Survey will
be tabled in Parliament the next day and the General Budget will be
presented on March 16.
In his customary eve-of-the-session media interaction, Bansal said
government has "very little time" for legislative business in the first
part of the session inspite of the fact that 39 bills are listed for
consideration and passing, including the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, which
has been approved by the Lok Sabha.
The minister said that nearly 200 amendments to bill moved in the Upper
House in the previous session had lapsed after it was prorogued and
members have started giving amendments afresh.
"One member has moved some amendments. I believe some others may also do
so. Even the government will have to move amendments afresh. These will
have to be examined before taking them up for discussion," Bansal said.
Soon after the BJP's threat to take up the Lokpal issue, Congress
president Sonia Gandhi held consultations with her senior colleagues.
Those present included finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, Bansal, rural
development minister Jairam Ramesh and political secretary to Congress
president Ahmad Patel.
Mukherjee also held a meeting with BJP leaders LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj,
Arun Jaitley and Yashwant Sinha.
Bansal dismissed suggestions that the government was in a crisis in any
way after the outcome of the just-concluded elections in five states.
"Whatever numbers the UPA had are intact. We have adequate numbers," he
said in reply to questions, echoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's
assertion earlier in the day.
The first part of the session would also see discussion on a Calling
Attention on the issue of two kids of NRI parents put into foster care by
a Norwegian agency.
It is also likely to witness a discussion on the alleged infringement of
the federal structure of the Constitution by the Centre.
The discussion is significant as the opposition has given hints of making
a common cause with Congress allies and supporting parties of the UPA on
the issue of federalism, fuelling concerns in the Congress.
As many as 39 Bills including the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill,
Whitleblowers Protection Bill, the Educational Tribunals Bill, The
Copyright (Amendment) Bill, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development
Authority Bill, Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill are listed by the
government for consideration and passing during the Budget Session.