Lokpal Bill highest priority of govt: Kamal Nath

As Anna Hazare's fast entered the seventh day, the governmment today declared that the Lokpal Bill is its highest priority and it is even ready to extend the current session of Parliament, concluding on December 20, for passage of the anti-corruption measure.

Citing Hazare's backing to the Bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath took a dig at AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal, a one-time protege of the Gandhian, saying those doing politics on the issue were finding fault with the measure.

Asked whether Samajwadi Party, which is opposing the Bill, has been brought on board, he said that his government will try its best to get the support of all parties for passage of the proposed legislation and it is "hopeful" about it.

"We are talking to all. We are appealing to all parties to cooperate with the government as the Lokpal Bill is the need of the nation," he said.

Nath's remarks came after a meeting of the Congress Core Group which saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi huddled with senior leaders to devise a strategy for the passage of the Bill, scheduled to come up for consideration before Rajya Sabha tomorrow.

"The Lokpal Bill is the highest priority of the government. It is a historical Bill for the country...The nation needs it... We want both the Houses of Parliament to pass it in this session.

"If needed, we will extend the Parliament session. If required we are also ready to sit till late hours to pass it....The Lokpal Bill is a very important priority for the government", he said.

While Hazare has praised the amended draft Lokpal Bill presented in Rajya Sabha, Kejriwal has dismissed it as a "jokepal".

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