May concede some of Trinamool’s Lokpal concerns: Chidambaram

Mumbai, December 31: The government Saturday expressed confidence that ally Trinamool Congress will come on board when the Lokpal bill is taken up in the budget session of parliament after accepting one or two of its amendments.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, however, indicated that the Trinamool’s demand for deletion of provisions related to state Lokayuktas from the bill may not be easy to meet.

He said the Trinamool Congress, a bitter critic of the Lokpal bill, had insisted that it was not satisfied with the provision that makes it mandatory for state governments to create an anti-graft ombudsman on the central government model.

‘Deletion of part 3 (the Lokayukta clause) would have gone against the ‘sense of the house’ statement, which was that there must be a chapter on Lokayuktas,’ the home minister told reporters here.

He said the Mamata Banerjee-led party ‘changed their position’ after the government thought it had convinced it.

‘We failed to convince the (Trinamool Congress) TMC. But we are confident that in the time between now and the budget session, we can refine and redraft that clause. In order to accommodate the TMC, we may have to – I say may – redraft and redefine that one clause. In order to muster the majority in the Rajya Sabha we may – again underline may – accept one or two amendments,’ he said.

The minister said the bill has not been defeated in the Rajya Sabha after a midnight fiasco in the upper house Thursday.

‘It will be the same bill with possibly one or two amendments (that will be brought in the budget session),’ he said.

Chidambaram blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party for the failure of the bill in the Rajya Sabha and justified the house being adjourned sine die before the key vote on the bill.

‘The only prudent course before the government was to let the debate remain inconclusive so that it can be taken up in the budget session.’

He said the BJP had devised an ‘ingenious’ method to scuttle the bill by pushing 187 amendments.

To ‘analyse, classify and distill’ the amendments was ‘impossible in such a short duration’, he said.

He dismissed the allegations that the Rajya Sabha drama was ‘fixed’. ‘I don’t know who fixed with whom. Certainly the Congress and the BJP didn’t fix it. We were rivals then, we are rivals today and you saw how the debate unfolded in parliament. We were clearly rivals, there was no fixing.’

He asked Anna Hazare to focus his campaign against the parties opposed to the idea of Lokayuktas in states.

‘I sincerely hope that Anna Hazare recognises that the BJP opposed or opposes in one form or the other, the Lokayukta chapter which is a key demand of Hazare,’ he said.

The home minister pointed out that Hazare’s case has been that the common man was affected mostly by the patwari, tehsildar and ration shops.

‘The common man is affected by corruption at the lowest level which really falls within the state’s purview. If the BJP directly or indirectly opposes the Lokayukta, what does it mean? It means that they don’t want the Lokayukta in states.’