New Delhi: A determined Opposition on Thursday forced brief adjournment of Rajya Sabha demanding presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the debate on Lokpal Bill, which was moved in the House on the last day of the winter session.

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Immediately after Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasamy moved the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 for consideration, BJP members were on their feet asking where the Prime Minister, who is also the Leader of the House, was.

Despite repeated assurances by Chairman Hamid Ansari that the Prime Minister was on his way to the House, the Opposition members did not relent charging that the government is "not interested".

Ansari wanted that the Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley should initiate the debate. But as the din continued, he adjourned the House for 10 minutes.

The proceedings resumed only after the Prime Minister reached the House and Jaitley began his speech.

Jaitely said the BJP wants a 'strong' Lokpal bill and not the 'weak' government version.

Initiating the debate on the Lokpal bill, he said “We don't want the present bill but also don't want to go back today (Thursday) without passing a Lokpal bill. We want a strong Lokpal bill.”

Calling for sense of the nation to prevail, he appealed to all the members of the House to support passage of a strong Lokpal bill.

“We could not pass the Lokpal bill eight times before and that has put a question mark on all of us. The whole country is watching our debate and people will not forgive those supporting a weak Lokpal bill,” he said.

The BJP leader said that it was a test for all the members of the House -- would they allow a weak bill or support amendments to make it a strong bill? “Today we will see if they (MPs) are only willing to proclaim or are willing to strike,” he added.

Pranab in talks with Trinamool

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was in talks with Congress ally Trinamool Congress, his colleague V. Narayanasamy said on Thursday as the ruling party tried hard to muster votes to secure the passage of the Lokpal bill in the Rajya Sabha.

“Pranab dada has talked to them (Trinamool) and is still in talks with them and I think they will come around,' Minister of State for Personnel Narayanasamy told a news channel ahead of the debate on the Lokpal bill in the upper house of the Parliament.

“Our finance minister has explained in detail that the Lokpal and the Lokayukta bill clearly states that if the state government does not give the consent for extending the act to the state it will not be possible to implement it,” he added.

The Trinamool Congress, which has six members in the Rajya Sabha, has sought deletion of a provision on setting up of state Lokayuktas, stating that it was as good as tampering with the federal structure and the party would seek scrapping of this clause.

Narayanasamy said the Congress does not have the adequate numbers and will have to depend on allies and supporting parties to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

“We are trying our best to pass the bill. This bill is the commitment of the members of both the Houses and all the members have got the responsibility to pass it,” he said.

(Agencies)