New Delhi: Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy moved the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. The House will debate the Bill and vote on it and if it is passed then the legislation will become an act. The Chairman of Rajya Sabha has allotted eight hours for the debate.
While moving the Bill Narayanasamy said that the UPA was committed to tackling corruption.
"The credit for the Lokpal Bill goes to the UPA Government. The Congress has always been for an anti-corruption mechanism," said Narayanasamy.
He said that all political parties were taken into confidence and their views on the Bill heard before the Bill was finalised and moved.
"We have not introduced the Bill in a hurry," he said.
It's going to be a battle for numbers in the Rajya Sabha when voting on the Lokpal Bill takes place. It seems that allies like the Trinamool Congress and regional parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will play a crucial role.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday issued dictat that all party MPs belonging to the Rajya Sabha should be present in the House.
At least 91 MPs are expected to vote in favour of the Bill, including 71 from the Congress and its allies like the DMK, the NCP and the National Conference. They want no further amendments to the Bill.
Around 102 MPs are against the Bill, a majority of these from the BJP and the Left parties. They have called the existing Bill weak and unconstitutional and one that infringes on the federal structure. They want the Bill to be withdrawn and re-introduced.
UPA ally, the Trinamool Congress, is the only party that partially supports the Bill. The Trinamool Congress has given a notice for amendment to delete the Lokayukta clause saying it infringed on the federal structure. The Trinamool Congress's amendment will force the Bill back to the Lok Sabha.
Around 44 MPs, including those from the BSP, the SP and RJD are sitting on the fence. They had abstained from voting in the Lower House. If they do so again in the Upper House, the simple majority will go down to 108 and favour the Government.
Like the Trinamool, the SP, RJD and the BSP believe the Lokpal Bill infringes on the federal structure.
The Government can only hope that the Independents and nominated MPs will abstain or vote in favour.
He said that the office of the Prime Minister has also been under the the Lokpal's ambit with some restrictions.
"The Prime Minister's Office is sacrosanct. Unfortunately, some sections demanded his inclusion. The Prime Minister has been brought under the Bill with certain exemptions," he added.
The Opposition created ruckus in the House over absence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during debate on Lokpal Bill. Opposition forced brief adjournment of Rajya Sabha demanding presence of Prime Minister during Lokpal debate.