President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with Congress chief Sonia GandhiReuters

The Union Cabinet on Thursday is likely to discuss the amendments to the much-debated Lokpal Bill, which has been haunting the government over the corresponding period last year.

The Congress-led UPA government got its version of the Lokpal Bill passed through Lok Sabha in the last winter session as it enjoyed the majority. However, the contentious bill was vehemently struck down in the floor of the Rajya Sabha.

In a bid to break the impasse over the Lokpal Bill and to save the face of the government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh convened an all-party meeting on March 20 to map out a solution to the ongoing Lokpal stir. Though the Prime Minister's attempt to tame the opposing opposition party leaders undesirably failed, he assured that the government would come out with a tweaked version of the Lokpal Bill.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Trinamool Congress, National Congress Party (NCP), which are the key allies of the UPA government, as well as main opposition party Bharatya Janata Party (BJP), opposed the provision on mandatory setting up the Lokayuktas in the states as it perceived it infringes on the states' rights.

According to sources, the UPA government is likely to make setting up the Lokayukta an optional for states on the lines of the anti-graft watchdog at the Centre, which is mandatory in the current Lokpal format.

The amendments in this regards reportedly has already been approved on Wednesday's meeting by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Law Minister Salman Khurshid. And the amended draft awaits a final approve from the Prime Minister. 

The amended format of the Lokpal Bill will be taken to the Rajya Sabha in second phase of budget sitting, starting April 23.

Can the government raise above all the obstacles and make the augmented Lokpal Bill a law? Only time will tell.

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