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Lokpal bill fate uncertain, hectic parleys on

New Delhi: Uncertainty continued over the fate of the contentious Lokpal bill in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday evening even as government managers held hectic parleys with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) constituent Trinamool Congress, hoping the party would dilute its opposition to sections of the legislation.

The Congress Core Committee also met in the evening and reviewed its strategy to get the bill passed in the house.

“We are short of numbers in the Rajya Sabha. Hence, the efforts to pass the bill,” said a minister. The UPA has 95 members in the 243-member upper house but claims support of 114, counting on Independents and nominated members.

Dead opposed to the provision on Lokayuktas in states, and fearing loss of their federal autonomy under the provisions of the bill, the Trinamool has moved around 37 amendments for complete separation of the Lokayuktas from the Lokpal bill.

Informed sources said the Trinamool may vote against the bill if its amendments are negated on the floor of the house. The sources said they hope the party would see reason and support the government’s point of view.

The government is also in touch with parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) which have a total of 27 members in the upper house. Sources said the government is banking on abstention of these parties during the voting on the bill.

The SP, BSP and RJD staged a walkout during the voting on the Lokpal bill in the Lok Sabha, which had brought down the number required by the government to reach the half-way mark. But the catch for the government is that the BSP opposed the bill during the debate earlier in the day.

While Trinamool Congress is a constituent of the UPA, the Samajwadi Party and the RJD support the government from outside. BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra said his party had not taken a final decision on the bill and will decide its stand at the time of voting in the house.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders said that Samajwadi Party members had told them that the party may vote against the government on the bill and may not stage a walkout. Official sources said notices have been given for a total of 173 amendments to the bill.

The notices for amendments to the bill have also been given by members from the BJP, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Telugu Desam Party, AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal and the Shiromani Akali Dal.

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