Today’s Parliament motion may simply postpone Anna Hazare’s agitation

Even as minutes remain for the beginning of the debate in the Indian Parliament on Anna Hazare’s three demands for Lokpal, uncertainty remains over whether or not there will be a vote on the three specific demands.

A vote-less discussion is likely to simply postpone the current conflict and agitation by a few weeks or months, when the final draft of the new Lokpal bill is made by the standing committee. Unless put to an actual vote, whatever is suggested by the speech-makers in the Parliament today will not be binding on the committee which will be tweaking the current government Lokpal bill in the coming days.

The main opposition, the Bhartiya Janata Party, has been asking for a vote on nine points, including the three demands from Anna Hazare, to force both the Government and other parties to spell out their stand. Once such a resolution is passed in the Parliament, the standing committee — which ultimately frames the Lokpal law — will be effectively bound by the nine points and will have to include them in the draft.

However, the ruling Congress party is averse to most of the demands — such as the inclusion of the lower bureaucracy within the investigative ambit of the Lokpal, as it has consistently opposed the demands to make the anti-corruption body powerful.

According to sources, the BJP has threatened to force a vote unless the governing parties come out unambiguously in support of all the demands of Anna Hazare and the BJP itself. If their statements in the Parliament continue to be ambiguous, the main opposition party will force the voting.

BJP has already laid the ground-work to force a voting by giving ‘notice’ for motions under section 168 and 184, both of which require voting, on the controversial issue.

The debate will start at 11 am in the Lok Sabha (elected house) and at 12 pm in the Rajya Sabha (upper house.)

It is expected that the Congress will try to do its best to avoid a direct voting on the matter as it will give a stronger commitment by the Parliament to Anna’s demands — a signal the ruling party is keen to avoid.

On the other hand, a “voice vote” will not be binding on the standing committee, which will be free to ignore these demands later, when it actually makes the law.

However, the “voice vote” scenario is likely to lead to a second round of agitations and fasts when the standing committee comes up with its Lokpal bill which may not contain Anna’s demands.


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