New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday expressed hope that political parties will reach a consensus at Friday’s all-party meeting on the Lokpal bill with leaders of the upper house of parliament.
“I have called a meeting tomorrow. We hope to build consensus on the issue,” Manmohan Singh said on the sidelines of a Padma awards function here.
The Lokpal bill could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha during the winter session last year due to opposition moving a large number of amendments and the government insisting that it needed time to study them. The bill could not be put to vote even after hours of debate on the last day of the winter session.
The opposition had charged the government of running away from the vote.
Team Anna, which campaigned for passage of the bill, said they had “no hope” after what happened in the Rajya Sabha at the end of the winter session.
Government sources said the meeting was needed as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) lacks majority in the upper house.
The 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 on the anti-graft legislation”.
“Considering whatever happened last year, we don’t see any hope that government will do anything,” Sisodia said.
“Still, we see it as a last opportunity for the government if they want to do something and they believe in people’s power.”
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.
The sources said the bill will be brought only if a consensus emerges on it.