Lokpal, land bills likely to be introduced in monsoon session


New Delhi : In a move to address politically volatile issues, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is gearing up to introduce major legislation in the monsoon session of parliament beginning August 1, with the Lokpal and land aquisition bills getting priority, sources in the Congress and the government said.

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“The priority will be for the Lokpal Bill, which will be discussed as early as in the cabinet meeting on Thursday,” a senior official said.

Communications Minister Kapil Sibal, a key member of the 10-member committee that had attempted a joint draft of the Lokpal bill, had said recently that final touches are being given to the measure.

“The government will introduce the bill. Then parliament, including the opposition, will assume a role,” said a Congress leader, who did not want to be identified.

“Civil society people would not be able to dictate terms as they did in April,” he said, referring to activist Anna Hazare’s that had seen the government agree to form the joint drafting panel. Hazare has again threatened to go on fast if the bill is not passed by August 15.

A bill amending The Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and which is likely to have an impact on the ongoing farmers agitation on Delhi’s outskirts in Uttar Pradesh, is also to be introduced in the monsoon session, which will conclude September 8, sources said.

Jairam Ramesh, the new rural development minister, has said that consultations on the amendments were in the final phase.

The UPA-II is keen on the bill, given the recent four-day padyatra of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in western Uttar Pradesh in support of farmers opposing the forced acquisition of their land.

The food security bill, considered a flagship measure of UPA-II, is also in the final stages, amidst reports that there are differences between the government and the draft bill proposed by the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC).

The differences are over the number and category of people to be brought in the ambit of the legislation, with the NAC wanting the coverage of more people, the sources said.

“Though there are chances that the food security bill may be postponed, the introduction of the Lokpal bill and the land acquisition bill are certain in the coming session,” a Congress leader added.