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Cabinet to discuss Lokpal Tuesday, Hazare calls it worthless

New Delhi: The union cabinet is likely to meet Tuesday to approve the contentious Lokpal Bill even as civil society leader Anna Hazare described the proposed government bill as ”worthless and good for nothing”.

The cabinet meeting, initially planned for Monday evening, is likely to be held Tuesday morning, sources said.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters that the final draft of the bill will be scrutinised by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday night.

Khurshid spoke to media persons after a team of key ministers, including Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Khurshid and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) V.
Narayanasamy held a meeting for two-and-half hours on the anti-graft bill, sources said.

The ministers – all of them lawyers by training – scrutinised the bill for any loopholes, sources added.

The government may also be considering extension of the winter session of parliament for three more days to facilitate detailed discussion of the Lokpal bill and its passage, sources said. A final decision in this regard will be taken at the cabinet meeting.

If parliament is extended, then it will meet again Dec 27-29 after breaking for the Christmas holidays on Dec 22.

According to sources, the government bill is likely to bring the prime minister under the ombudsman with riders. The bill also will bring the prosecution wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under the Lokpal purview, it is learnt.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal has already informed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) about the government’s intention to extend the session.

Meanwhile, Hazare told reporters in Pune that the government’s proposed bill was “worthless and good for nothing”.

Hazare’s plan to visit Delhi Monday has been cancelled, his aide informed.

The government as well as the ruling Congress are trying to forge a consensus on the Lokpal bill and it will be presented in parliament in the ongoing winter session, Minister of State for Planning Ashwani Kumar said.

“The government and Congress are trying to build consensus on the Lokpal by consulting its allies and parties in opposition,” Ashwani Kumar said.

Union Minister Farooq Abdullah said parliament should adopt caution while framing the Lokpal bill so that “a super government to the government is not formed”.

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