Lokpal: Cong Leaders Deliberate Ahead of All-Party Meet
With Government making a fresh bid to end the stalemate over Lokpal Bill, Congress top brass including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi held deliberations ahead of the all-party meeting tomorrow.

The meeting of the Congress Core Group also discussed the outcome of the Assembly and Lok Sabha by-polls, which has thrown up mixed results.

While it was good news for Congress in BJP-ruled Karnatka and Gujarat, the results were a cause of concern for the Congress in party-ruled Andhra Pradesh, where it failed to win even a single among the seven assembly seats that went to poll. There was a view in the party that the party's lack of clarity on Telangana issue caused the drubbing.

With opposition parties coming up with 100-odd amendments for the Lokpal Bill, the government's strategy is to get the bill passed with the help of the SP and the BSP as it believes that the Trinamool Congress, though may not support the bill, its opposition to it could be limited to absenting from the vote.

The government is keen on passing the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha even as the opposition and social activist Anna Hazare have renewed pressure on the issue.

Hazare has said he will go on a fast from March 25 if the bill is not passed while the BJP has said that the debate and amendments to the bill should be taken up from where they were left on the night of December 29 when the House was adjourned amid a din. The Lok Sabha has already passed the bill.

Some of the amendments, the sources said, are for bringing the Prime Minister's Office entirely under the Lokpal, seek exclusion of Lokayukta from the bill, abolition of minority quota and inclusion of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha as one of the members of the selection committee.

Though the fresh consultation is aimed at ensuring that the anti-graft bill is passed in the first part of the Budget Session which ends on March 30, the sources said that the bill is likely to passed only in the second part of the session, which begins on April 23.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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