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Govt confident of passing Lokpal Bill in RS today

CHENNAI/NEW DELHI Dec 15 PTI
WITH BJP promising support, the Centre was on Sunday optimistic that the amended Lokpal Bill will be passed in Rajya Sabha on Monday, even as the face-off between Anna Hazare and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal over the anti-graft measure continued.

Citing the support of BJP to the Lokpal Bill, Congress hoped that UPA’s key outside ally Samajwadi Party will reconsider its strong opposition to the anti-graft measure. The SP on Saturday warned it could go to “any extent” in Parliament to block the legislation. “Chances are high that the Bill will be passed in the Rajya Sabha on Monday,” Union Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy told reporters at Chennai airport.

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Sunday said that his party was ready to support Lokpal even without a discussion, after he alleged that Congress and its allies all along were blocking the passage of the legislation. The Bill among other things delinks setting up of Lokayuktas in States, a highly controversial provision that led many parties to opposed it in Rajya Sabha last December. “Compliment Rahul Gandhi for coming out strongly in favour of Lok Pal and Arun Jaitley also for supporting it. Hope SP would reconsider,” AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh said on Twitter. Kejriwal told reporters in Delhi that nobody except Congress will be benefited by the passage of the Bill while Rahul Gandhi will get the credit for it. Kejriwal also said he was saddened by Hazare’s stand that he would break his fast if the Lokpal Bill is passed, warning that the proposed legislation will not prevent corruption but instead work to “protect the corrupt”.

“Forget about any Minister, not even a mouse will go to jail if this Bill is enacted. I can assure you that there would not be a single conviction with this Lokpal in next 10 years. I pondered over who will gain from this Lokpal Bill. I found that Congress would gain and its Vice President Rahul Gandhi will get some credit for its passage,” Kejriwal said.

Paswan urges SP to support Lokpal Bill in RS today

PATNA, Dec 15 (PTI)

SEEKING to build a consensus, LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan on Sunday urged Samajwadi Party to support the Lokpal bill in Rajya Sabha and ensure its passage even without debate on Monday. SP should support the Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha and join other parties in ensuring its passage tomorrow even without discussion, Paswan told reporters after attending a three-day introspection camp on strengthening three-tier panchayati raj system in Bihar.

“It will be good if the Lokpal Bill is debated by the members in Rajya Sabha tomorrow before being passed, but if, for some reason, a debate is not possible, then SP should join other parties in passing the anti-corruption legislation even without discussion,” Paswan said, appealing to SP, which had created pandemonium in the Upper House after tabling of the Bill on Friday. Regarding his party’s stand, Paswan said LJP will support the Lokpal Bill in its present format and seek its passage.

He slammed AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal for opposing the Lokpal Bill and said he deserves “condemnation for virulent stand” against the Bill at a time there appeared to be a consensus on it. On Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s observations that he has learnt a lot from the way AAP had rallied the people for good governance, the LJP leader said he was entitled to his views, but there was nothing to learn from the new political outfit.

A number of leaders and outfits like Prafulla Kumar Mahanta-led AGP Government in Assam and the Janata Party government at the Centre in 1970s had disintegrated after meteoric rise to power on anti-corruption agenda, he said, adding that Kejriwal was not a bigger leader than JP who had catalysed the anti-Congress forces on the corruption issue. Paswan said he wished AAP would have got 36 seats in the recently-concluded Delhi assembly polls and not 28 that it managed to get so that everybody could have seen how it ran the Government.

On the political situation emerging in Bihar after the impending release of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad from Ranchi jail on being granted bail by the Supreme Court, the LJP leader said the development will not only boost RJD workers’ morale, but give a renewed hope to the RJD-LJP alliance in Bihar. Paswan expressed optimism that Congress will join the RJD-LJP alliance going by the positive vibes of the its leadership, but no final decision has been taken.

Congress not serious about Bill: BJP

HYDERABAD, Dec 15 (PTI)

ALLEGING that ruling Congress is “not serious” about bringing Lokpal Bill, BJP on Sunday said the UPA Government could have brought the anti-graft legislation long ago as there was consensus over the issue. “Congress is not serious about Lokpal (Bill). The consensus had already emerged one year ago in May 2012. (In) one and half years, there were three peaceful sessions. They (Congress) could have brought the Bill any time,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javdekar told reporters here.

“Because, there were unanimous recommendations. If they were genuine enough, they would have brought the bill and passed it. We were ready to pass it unanimously. But, Government does not want and that’s why we have doubts,” he said. Giving a major push to Lokpal, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday appealed to political parties to set aside differences to ensure its passage to fight corruption. Javdekar, whose party is supporting the Telangana cause, also said that intentions of Congress are doubtful even on the separate statehood issue. “We have doubts about Congress’ intentions on Telangana. Congress has given time till January 23 for AP legislature (to send its views on Telangana Bill). This session (of Parliament) is not going to run till then. That means the Bill (is) not going to come in this session. I have doubts whether they would bring the bill in the session to be held in February ahead of elections,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.

Cong ‘climbdown’ on Lokpal due to poll debacle: Jaitley

NEW DELHI, Dec 15 (PTI)

AFTER three years of arrogant attitude towards Lokpal, Congress has decided to climb down and adopt a conciliatory approach, BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Sunday said, attributing Rahul Gandhi’s “changed” body language to the electoral rap on the knuckles.

Noting that democracy is a great leveller, he said, “on Saturday, both the language, approach and the body language were different. After electoral rap on the knuckles, the mighty had fallen” and advised Aam Aadmi Party, which he accused of being disrespectful to leaders of other parties, to take a cue from Congress and shed its “arrogance” after its stunning debut in Delhi election.