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Government wanted to avert defeat in Rajya Sabha: Congress

The government Thursday decided not to press for passage of Lokpal bill in Rajya Sabha after it realised that it had not been able to muster requisite numbers and wanting to avert a defeat ahead of the forthcoming assembly polls, Congress sources said.

The sources said efforts of party leaders to convince its ally Trinamool Congress to back the bill, passed by the Lok Sabha Tuesday, had not yielded results and Bahujan Samajwadi Party Samajwadi Party also decided against staging a walk-out and helping the government.

The sources said a defeat on the bill in the Rajya Sabha would not have done any good to the Congress-led government's image ahead of crucial polls to five states.

Meanwhile, a Samajwadi Party leader told IANS that the party would have supported the bill if the government had dropped the clause concerning Lokayukta. "Otherwise we would have voted against the bill," he said.

Congress sources said that the government did not want to face division when it was not sure of its numbers.

They said the party had suffered an embarrassment in the Lok Sabha by failing to get constitutional status to Lokpal and did not want to face another defeat in the Rajya Sabha.

Congress sources said that the government was painted into a corner following insistence of Trinamool Congress and supporting parties to insist on their amendments.

They said if the government had agreed to drop the provisions regarding Lokayukta, it would have been required to bring the amended Lokpal bill to the Lok Sabha again for approval.

The government, they said, was not in a position to get the bill passed and decided to seek more time.

They said another reason for the government did not pressing for passage of the bill could be that threat of Anna Hazare's agitation had vanished.

Congress leaders later expressed their disappointment over stance of Trinamool Congress.

"They supported the bill in one house and decided to amend it in another," a Congress leader said.

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