Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister Manmohan SinghReuters

In a fresh bid to break the logjam on the Lokpal Bill, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh convened an all-party meeting Friday.

Aiming the passage of anti-graft ombudsman in the second phase of the budget sitting, starting April 24, the Prime Minister has promised the Opposition parties that the Centre would come out with a tweaked version of the Lokpal Bill.  

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Trinamool Congress, which are the key allies of the UPA government, opposed the provision of setting up the Lokayuktas in the states as it perceived it infringes on the states' rights.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley wanted to remove the Lokayukta provision from Lokpal Bill under the Article 253 and place it under Article 252 so that creating the Lokyaukta will become optional. It is mandatory in the current version.

Jaitley, representing the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also demanded the inclusion of the NGOs under the Lokpal purview and to keep private organisations out of its ambit.

On the other hand, CPI (M) leaders demanded that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to be freed from the clutches of the government and make it as an independent agency, thus letting it carry out a free and fair probe.

Commissioning the Lokpal, which can purportedly weed out the corruption in the nation, has been a bothering issue for the UPA government over the corresponding period last year.

The Centre managed to get its version of the bill through the Lok Sabha in the last assembly session as it held the majority. However, the Lokpal draft was vehemently struck down in the floor of the Rajya Sabha.

The Centre's version of the Lokpal Bill was ridiculed by various Opposition parties and moved as many as 187 amendments in the Rajya Sabha last year. That literally amounted to a totally different Lokpal Bill.

The possibility of passing the anti-graft ombudsman seems weak as the Prime Minister had failed to forge any consensus in the latest all-party meet on the much-debated Lokpal.

However, Manmohan Singh's assurance to amend the Centre's version of the Lokpal Bill appears to be a sign of the shift in stance.