New Delhi: An all party meeting to seek
views across the political spectrum on the issue of inclusion
of the Prime Minister under the Lokpal Bill is likely to be
held in the first week of next month.
Government sources indicated that the meeting is expected
to be convened soon after June 30 by which time the work of
the Joint Committee to draft the bill will be over.
The Committee has final meetings scheduled tomorrow and
the day after.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is expected to have
consultations with senior party leaders and ministers ahead of
the Joint Committee deliberations.
The Congress core group which met over the weekend had
favoured an all party meeting against the backdrop of widening
differences between the government and the civil society
representatives led by Anna Hazare.
The Hazare camp has been pitching for the inclusion of
Prime Minister and the higher judiciary in the proposed Lokpal
Senior ministers like Chidambaram and several top party
leaders have been maintaining there was divergence of views on
the prime minister`s inclusion.
Reports have it that the UPA constituents too have
divergent views. They say that since the Congress is leading
the coalition it has to take everyone together.
Another suggestion was that the PM could be brought in
with specially carved exceptions or after he demits office.
Congress leaders have been maintaining in private that
bringing the PM under the ambit of Lok Pal is fraught with
serious consequences and a decision in this regard needed to
be taken keeping in mind a long-term view.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has said while the government
was opposed to the PM`s inclusion under the Lokpal bill, it
was open to the idea to cover him once he demits office.
"Within the government, we feel prima facie, the PM
should not be covered. But, we want to make sure that if he
demits office, he should not be exonerated from prosecution,"
Sibal, who is a member of the Joint Committee, has said.
Congress and the government are of the view that the
Parliament is supreme and Anna Hazare and his team should not
adopt the attitude of "my way or the highway".
That the government and Congress wanted to involve other
parties was evident when Sibal recently said political parties
could have different views on the matter.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, whose party
SAD is part of the NDA has expressed himself against bringing
Prime Minister under the ambit of the Lokpal.
Congress has accused BJP of playing opportunistic
politics by not not revealing its mind on the key issue.
Delhi Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Shiela
Dikshit has opposed to the idea of setting up of Lokpal and
advised that the existing mechanism against corruption should
Chief ministers of Congress-ruled states have toed the
Centre`s line on the Lokpal bill opposing inclusion of the
prime minister under its ambit while those from states where
BJPis in power have sought wider deliberations before a final
view is taken.
Several chief ministers of BJP-ruled states have
expressed surprise over why they are being consulted now when
final draft is not ready and demanded that their opinion is
sought on the whole bill and not just on the six issues where
differences have cropped up between the Centre and the civil
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is chairman of the
joint Lokpal bill drafting panel, had sent six questions on
the proposed legislation to the chief ministers seeking their
opinion on them.