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Government of India in damage control mode, talks to allies

December 29, 2011 - New Delhi

With West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee's amendments gradually garnering support from other regional parties, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BJP) leader Satish Chandra Mishra to find a way out.

According to reports, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal was also present in the meeting.

Mamata Banerjee has reportedly talked to her six party MPs in the Rajya Sabha, and asked them not to back from key demands of the TMC.

Participating in the debate on Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha, TMC leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said the Trinamool Congress opposes Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha with respect to provision on setting up of Lokayuktas.

"The Bill seeks to encroach upon authority of states which we are opposed to. Bringing Lokayukta under the Bill may be unconstitutional. It is certainly anti-federal. My leader has directed us to oppose this Bill to the extent that it relates to Lokayukta," said Roy.

"If the image of Chief Minister is affected, image of the country is also affected. If the chief minister is put on trial, his or her image is denigrated. Image of the country is also denigrated. On August 27, we discussed Lokpal Bill. Suddenly and surprisingly, it became Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill. New nomenclature has been inserted," he added.

Urging the government to accept the amendments, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said: "Being member state of United Nations, we know in certain cases we ratify international covenant on many issues. But does this enforce upon Government of India to evolve such a mechanism, which will breach the federal principles of constitution of India?"

"We have moved so many amendments. We want those amendments to be accepted. The voice of dissent should also be listened. The entire nation is looking at us. We shall be answerable to our future generations. Request the government to delete Chapter 3 in its entirety from its bill. With these words, I oppose the bill to the extent I have stated," he added.

According to reports, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to back the amendments on removal of Lokaukta clauses.

Mamata Banerjee, who has now become a game changer, has made it clear that her party will demand a vote on two amendments it has sought to the Lokpal Bill.

Of the two amendments put in by the TMC, one asks for a change to the name of the Bill, which refers to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas. The other asks for the entire reference to Lokayuktas to be dropped from the Bill.

If the TMC amendments win, the Lokpal Bill will go back to the Lok Sabha.


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