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Lokpal Bill to be introduced in Lok Sabha Wednesday?

The Lokpal Bill could be introduced in the Lok Sabha Wednesday after the Manmohan Singh government wrote to Speaker Meira Kumar Tuesday to waive off the two-day period needed to present a bill.

Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy Tuesday gave a notice to Meira Kumar in this regard.

"Our paperwork is complete. We have written to the speaker and it is up to her to take a decision," he told reporters.

Later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said as all parties are in favour of introducing the draft bill at the earliest, the government has written to the speaker to waive off the two-day period required to distribute copies of any new bill to all political parties.

Bansal told reporters last week that the bill would be introduced by Aug 3.

The bill was finally finalised by the central government July 28 after months of meetings, debates and on occasions acrimony between the representatives of civil rights activists, led by social activist Anna Hazare, and the government ministers.

Although, the activists wanted a strong Lokpal which brings the prime minister and higher judiciary within its ambit, the government kept them out of it. The government also kept parliamentarians' conduct inside the house out of the purview of the Lokpal.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also reiterated that it wants a strong Lokpal that covers the prime minister.

"We are in favour of a strong Lokpal which has the prime minister in its ambit," BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters outside parliament.

The BJP leader, however, added that the party will disclose its stand on the other aspects of the bill after it is tabled in the two houses during the current session.

"When the debate on the bill takes place, we will disclose our stand," he said.

The government in its draft has said that the prime minister can be probed but after he demits office and with a time limitation of seven years.

The Lokpal, consisting of chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff to carry out its functions.

Hazare has threatened that if the government does not come out with a strong Lokpal, he would go on hunger strike again starting Aug 16.

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