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    Lokpal Bill lacks teeth, activists fume

    New Delhi: Under the Lokpal Bill in its current form, the Lokpal cannot investigate the Prime Minister on issues of defence and external affairs, nor does it have any jurisdiction over Parliamentarians.

    Apart from activists, putting pressure on the Government is National Advisory Council, which is taking a keen interest in the Bill.

    Veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare has made his intent clear. "I will go on a fast and will not return to Maharashtra until the Lokpal Bill is passed," he said.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, aware of the deep potential for embarrassment, has already appealed to the veteran leader not to go on a fast.

    In its current form the Lokpal will not have powers to enquire into matters suo motto and would need the recommendation of the Speaker.

    It will not be able to act against Members of Parliament it finds guilty of corruption, in fact, its findings can also be rejected.

    Only retired judges are allowed to be members, which excludes a whole lot of other people.

    The present disagreement is over the formation of a joint committee. While the Government says there is no precedent, activists point out that it has happened in Maharashtra before.

    Civil society activists have presented their own form calling it the Jan Lokpal Bill.

    "The GoM on the Lokpal Bill has Sharad Pawar and Kapil Sibal, who never see corruption anywhere," said activist Arvind Kejriwal.

    What is adding to the pressure on the Government is that Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council has also taken a keen interest in the Bill.

    "If there is a difference in opinion in the approach to the Bill, democracy is the process of really harmonising those differences and then coming to a best possible solution that a bill can offer," said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewati.

    For Manmohan Singh, with his emphasis on a clean image already in tatters, the Lokpal controversy is going to be a tight rope walk.