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Lokpal bill best possible, says government

The government Thursday said its Lokpal bill was 'the best' possible and trashed as mere politics the opposition to it from parties and social activists.

"They are opposing it because they think the Congress will score brownie points by passing the bill. This is an historic movement. Instead of appreciating the move, they are opposing. Whatever the government is bringing they are opposed to that," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajiv Shukla said.

He was speaking to reporters shortly before the government was to table the much-awaited anti-corruption bill in the Lok Sabha amid a tough battle given the opposition within and outside parliament. Social activist Anna Hazare has labelled the bill weak and threatened to go on a three-day fast from Dec 27-29 followed by a court arrest protest in New Delhi.

Shukla asked Hazare to give up his agitation and see the bill. "The government has given the best bill. I think he should realise it. Most of the things have been done. The PM (prime minister) has been brought under the Lokpal," the minister said. 

The ride in parliament for the government has also become tougher because the ruling United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) outside supporters -- the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) -- have also raised objections to the bill and questioned the government's haste to get it passed. 

"We won't allow this bill in its present form at any cost. There has to be quota for minorities in the Lokpal. They have succumbed to the pressure from the BJP and the RSS and removed the provision for minority quota," RJD leader Lalu Prasad told reporters.

The government is scheduled to move the bill for the establishment of the institution of Lokpal to "inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto". 

The bill envisages the setting up of an ombudsman to check corrupt politicians and government officials. It will be discussed in parliament next week after a four-day Christmas break. But the bill has set the stage for a possible confrontation between the government and the opposition.

"The signs are not encouraging," BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters, adding that he had not seen the bill copy.  But he said the party won't accept the bill if the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was not set free from the clutches of the government and other suggestions from the party were not incorporated. 

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