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Lokpal panel to meet today
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, June 14
The Lokpal joint drafting committee will meet here tomorrow to discuss the contentious issue of bringing the Prime Minister within the ambit of the proposed anti-graft legislation against the backdrop of an ongoing slanging match between the government and civil society representatives.

Tomorrow’s meeting is set to witness a furious debate between the two sides as civil society representatives, including social activist Anna Hazare and lawyers Shanti and Prashant Bhushan, will insist that the Prime Minister and the judiciary be brought within the ambit of the Lokpal Bill on the plea that the Constitution does not provide for any immunity to the office of the Prime Minister. The government, however, is resisting this move on the ground that the Prime Minister would be “hobbled” in his functioning by unnecessary and frivolous complaints.

Though both sides have raised the pitch in the run-up to this meeting, each will seek to convince the other about its viewpoint at tomorrow’s meeting. The civil society representatives had boycotted the last meeting to protest the midnight crackdown on Swami Ramdev’s congregation at Ramlila Maidan on June 5.

While the slanging match continues unabated, Hazare took a milder position today, saying that differences between them could be resolved through dialogue and not through confrontation.elected tyrant. He added that the government is a representative of citizens and are answerable to them.

Civil society members upped the ante with Arvind Kejriwal, a member of the joint panel, has publicly described politicians as “cheats and conspirators” while the five civil society representatives dashed off a letter to the Prime Minister, saying that an honest person like him should not be scared of being investigated by the Lokpal.

In a separate letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Hazare complained that her party leaders were defaming him by declaring that he was acting on the behest of the BJP and the RSS.

Dropping its earlier defencive posture, the government and the Congress hit back in full measures. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the joint committee, had dismissed Hazare’s threat to sit on fast again if the Lokpal Bill was not passed by August 15 and made it clear that nobody could dictate terms to Parliament which is the supreme body to pass laws.

Taking a cue from Mukherjee, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari described Hazare as an “unelected tyrant” to which the social activist remarked that the government is an “elected tyrant”.





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