New Delhi, Nov. 16: The government has listed the Lokpal bill for discussion and passage during the winter session of Parliament but has failed to line up the land acquisition bill though an unscheduled introduction is not ruled out.
Both bills had gone to House standing committees around the same time after the monsoon session of Parliament, and both hold electoral significance for the Congress.
Failure to get the Lokpal bill passed in the November 22-December 21 session may bring further stick from Team Anna, while a delayed land bill could weaken Rahul Gandhis farmer plank in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress had tried to speed up proceedings at the standing committees but succeeded only in case of the Lokpal bill as the panel studying it is headed by party leader Abhishek Singhvi. The land bill panel, on the other hand, is headed by the BJPs Sumitra Mahajan.
Singhvi has been working at a feverish pace to save his partys skin. Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal today said he had received indications that the panel report on the Lokpal bill would be submitted in the first week of December, allowing both Houses to take it up in the winter session.
No such assurance has come from the other standing committee, forcing the government to leave the land bill out of the list of 31 pieces of legislation released today as part of the sessions agenda.
The Centre has been nudging the BJP leadership to get Mahajan to speed up proceedings at the land bill standing committee. But Mahajan has pointed to the hundreds of suggestions the committee has received to improve the bill.
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has met Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and written to Mahajan, pleading for early submission of the standing committee report.
The government rarely takes such an initiative to get a bill passed and, to many, any interference in a standing committees work is unethical. Mahajan, anyway, has refused to rush through a bill that will have long-term, country-wide implications.
Congress leaders, too, realise the importance of the process but joke they wish there was another Anna Hazare to goad Mahajan into working faster.
The Hazare effect is visible in the governments legislative agenda, which includes several bills aimed at creating a stronger anti-corruption regime.
Apart from the Lokpal, bills on whistleblowers, judicial standards and accountability, and prevention of money-laundering are lined up for the session, as is a citizens charter. The womens reservation bill and pension regulatory bill too are listed.
Bansal, who met the chief whips of all the parties today, said the government was ready to discuss any matter in Parliament but the Opposition should allow enough time for legislative business. At the meeting, Opposition members sought House discussions on subjects such as price rise, corruption, black money and proposed divisions of states.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has called a meeting of political parties tomorrow to discuss smooth functioning of the House.