M A I N   N E W S

Congress to call all-party meeting on Lokpal Bill
Within the government, we feel the Prime Minister shouldn’t be brought under Lokpal, says Sibal
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

Anna Hazare is like the ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’. The tune is lilting and people were upset with corruption just as the government is. We want to deal with it. But those who follow him.. do not know what the Lokpal Bill is.

— Kapil Sibal, Union Minister

Govt lacks clarity: BJP

The BJP on Saturday slammed government for “lack of clarity” towards the anti-graft legislation. “The government's view on bringing the PM under Lokpal is still not clear. Kapil Sibal has one view, Home Minister Chidambaram says something else,” said BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad.

New Delhi, June 18
The Congress has decided to widen the ambit of discussions on the Lokpal Bill by seeking the opinion of other political parties after government representatives on the joint drafting committee failed to bridge differences with civil society members on key provisions of the proposed anti-graft legislation.

An all-party meeting is likely to be convened shortly to take a view on the inclusion of the Prime Minister within the ambit of the Lokpal Bill, an issue which has led to an animated debate within the government, the Congress and civil society groups.

The decision to consult other political parties was taken by the Congress core committee after two lengthy meetings, convened at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence over the last two days. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior party leaders, who attended the meeting, are learnt to have discussed the implications of bringing the PM under the Lokpal’s purview, which has emerged as a major point of contention between the government and civil society representatives on the joint drafting panel.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, a member of the joint panel, told Doordarshan today that the government will also seek the opinion of Chief Ministers on the committee’s draft. "The government will seek the views of political parties on the draft Bill before it goes to the Cabinet. Whatever agreements or disagreements on the draft are there will be presented before parties,” he said.

The core panel also took note of social activist Anna Hazare’s threat to restart his fast. Although Congress sources maintain that the government will not succumb to pressure, the party is worried at the prospect of Anna sitting on another fast as his last such venture had drawn overwhelming public support. Team Anna wants the PM and higher judiciary brought under the Lokpal’s purview but there is no unanimity in the government and the Congress on this issue. A section is opposed to this proposal on the grounds that it will have an adverse impact on the functioning of the Prime Minister. However, another section is open to the suggestion that the PM be covered by the Lokpal after he demits office. “Within the government, we feel the Prime Minister should not be covered under the Lokpal, but at the same time, we want to make sure that if he demits office, he should not be exonerated from prosecution,” Sibal said.

While addressing the press earlier this week, Home Minister P.Chidambaram had said that the government is looking at the option of bringing the PM’s office within the ambit of the Lokpal “with specially carved exceptions” and with certain caveats. Isolated in its lone battle against civil society groups, the government has decided to take the help of other political parties in evolving a final view on the Lokpal Bill.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | E-mail |