Lok Sabha passes Lokpal bill, Left stages walk out

Posted in Front Page

New Delhi, Dec 27: The government Tuesday night moved a step forward to create an all-powerful anti-graft ombudsman after the Lok Sabha passed a contentious Lokpal bill following a day-long stormy debate over the legislation.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill on the Lokpal Bill too has been passed in the Lok Sabha. This will operationalise key provisions of the Lokpal Bill and make the Lokpal a Constitutional body. The Constitutional Amendment Bill needed a two-third majority saying aye. In division, with 394 members voting, the Bill got 321 ayes, 71 noes. There were two abstentions.
The bills now need a nod from the Rajya Sabha before these are enacted as a law.
However, the Left walked out just before the Lokpal Bill was passed by voice vote in the Lok Sabha. The communist parties walked out because an amendment moved by Basudeb Acharya of the CPM was not accepted. The Biju Janata Dal walked out before the Lokpal vote.
As his party members walked out of the Lok Sabha before the vote on the Lokpal bill, Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said the bill was not "strong" and was brought by the government under pressure from Anna Hazare.
The 43 members of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) staged the walkout ahead of the Lokpal vote in the Lok Sabha Tuesday night.
"We are opposed to the bill. It is not a strong bill. The government has brought it in haste. They were also under pressure because of Anna (Hazare)," Mulayam Singh told reporters outside parliament. Hazare is holding his three-day fast in Mumbai for a strong Lokpal.
The Samajwadi Party chief also said that they also staged the walkout as they did not want to vote with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The MPs of the two parties - who are arch rivals in Uttar Pradesh, which will see polls to the assembly in February - claimed that the government had not listened to their suggestions on the bill that envisages setting up of an all-powerful anti-graft ombudsman.
However, their non-participation in the vote eased the government worries because if they had voted against, passage of the bill could have been difficult.
Earlier, urging members of the Lok Sabha to pass the Lokpal Bill unanimously, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the government was sensitive to points made by various political parties and has agreed to bring a large number of amendments to the anti-corruption ombudsman legislation.
In his reply to the nine-hour long debate on the bill, Mukherjee, Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha, said the amendments have been brought to the bill so that consent of states was taken on notification concerning the Lokayukta.
He said provisions in section 24 of the bill were also being amended.
Section 24 of the bill allows presiding officers to act on the basis of a Lokpal report. The Lok Sabha speaker or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is required to table the Lokpal report and inform Lokpal about the action being taken, or not being taken, against the members concerned.
Mukherjee urged the members to pass the bill unanimously.

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