Bihar governor clears lokayukta bill; 'too weak' says opposition

The Bihar Lokayukta Bill, 2011 – providing for an anti-corruption ombudsman for the state – was today cleared by Governor Devanand Konwar, paving the way for its passage next week.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar's cabinet had approved the bill on 30 November. It includes the chief minister and state ministers in its purview.
The state government later convened an all-party meeting in which opposition parties questioned the need for rushing through with the bill, saying that a debate should have been held before its finalisation.

On Thursday after the cabinet, in consultation with senior administrative officials had finalised the bill, deputy chief minister S K Modi, who headed a three-member team to fine-tune the draft, said it would be the most "effective and strong" lokayukta in the country.

Nonetheless members of 'team Anna' – the nationwide crusaders against corruption led by Anna Hazare -  like Supreme Court lawyer Shanti Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal too have voiced disapproval of the Bihar bill, describing it as 'weak' and a mirror of the union government's lokpal bill, which team Anna claims is little more than eyewash.

Leaders of opposition parties in the state echoed these views. "The CM is indulging in one-upmanship on the national canvas. He wants to be first in the country to get the lokayukta bill made into an act," leader of the opposition in the state Abdul Bari Siddiqui said.

According to him, the bill was prepared in haste. "We are not opposed to a lokayukta. Rather, we favour a strong lokayukta for the state," Siddiqui said, adding, "Our suggestions were practical and they should have been heeded."