SP, BSP keep away from meeting on Lokpal bill

New Delhi


The government's efforts to get the Samajwadi Party (SP) to back the Lokpal bill in the Rajya Sabha did not appear to have made much headway as it continued its opposition and kept away from an all-party meeting Monday called to drum up support for the legislation.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also missed the meeting though it has not expressed any opposition to the bill.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said the government will persuade the SP not to disrupt the house.

"All parties, except the Samajwadi Party, expressed the desire that the bill should be passed. We will continue to persuade the SP not to obstruct the house... We will pass it tomorrow."

The government is however not planning to call in marshals to maintain order as, sources said, the general sentiment in the meeting was against it.

The meeting was called by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari.

Earlier Monday, Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said his party is opposed to the provisions of the Lokpal bill.

"Our party will continue to oppose the Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha and our stand on it has not changed," he told reporters outside Parliament House.

Barring SP, a general consensus has emerged over the passage of the Lokpal bill.

BSP chief Mayawati had Friday said her party supports the Lokpal Bill and demanded that the government should ensure its passage in the ongoing parliament session.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which was earlier opposed to the legislation, also said Monday that it had "changed its stand".

"We have changed our stand. We are now supporting Lokpal bill," said party Rajya Sabha MP Ram Kripal Yadav. "We realise Lokpal is needed in the interest of the nation. So all parties should support it," he added.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) meanwhile said the real issue is if the government intends to pass the bill.

"The question is whether the government has the intention to pass the Lokpal bill. SP has been supporting them since nine and a half years, helping them whenever they needed. Can't the government make them agree on Lokpal?" said BJP leader Prakash Javadekar.

The bill will be taken up by the Rajya Sabha Tuesday. It was tabled in the Rajya Sabha Friday but could not be debated as the SP created a din.

It could not be taken up Monday either as the house was adjourned after an obituary reference to union minister Sis Ram Ola, who died Sunday.

After it is passed in the upper house, the anti-graft bill will be sent to the lower house for its approval as several amendments have been made to it. - IANS