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SP, BSP skip all-party meet

With an aim of breaking the logjam over the bill, Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari convened an urgent meeting which was boycotted by Samajwadi Party, saying it was opposed to it as the ‘whole decision-making process will come to a standstill’.

BSP, which has openly declared its support for the proposed legislation, and DMK were also not present at the meeting. BSP leaders later clarified that the meeting coincided with their national executive meeting here.

After the meeting, which lasted for over half-an-hour, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said all parties that attended the meeting on Monday were unanimous that the bill be passed on Tuesday.

Asked about absence of representatives from some parties at the meeting, he said they were unable to attend it due to some reasons and the government will try and reach out to them.

‘We discussed expeditious passing of the Lokpal Bill. All parties, except the Samajwadi party which was not present in the meeting, have expressed a desire that the bill should be passed under all circumstances on Tuesday,’ Nath said.

‘All parties will continue to persuade the Samajwadi Party to join in, in passing of the Bill and not to obstruct the functioning of the House,’ Nath told reporters after the meeting.

During the discussions, sources said, NDA leaders agreed to passage of the Bill even amid the din, but were unanimous that marshals should not be used to usher out those opposing the measure in the House.

‘We are always in touch’, Nath said when asked whether he planned to meet SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav again. But, at the same time, he made it clear that so far SP has not given any assurance. He said that the government is ready for passage of the bill with or without discussion.

‘The opposition and obstruction are two different things,’ the minister said, amid speculation that while SP is against the bill, it may not choose to vociferously obstruct its passage in Parliament.

Earlier, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav rubbished as ‘fabricated’ a report that his party may relent on the issue and asserted that it will oppose the measure when it is taken up in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

‘Our party will continue to oppose the Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha and our stand on it has not changed,’ he said outside Parliament House.

Describing the reported assurance given by SP supremo to Nath during a meeting as completely ‘fabricated’, Yadav said, ‘It has never been conveyed by Mulayam Singh that Samajwadi Party will support the Lokpal Bill. It is absolutely wrong.’
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