Anna meets Sonia; says meeting ‘fruitful’

Anna Hazare and his team have reached 10 Janpath to meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: In his bid to form a consensus over the contentious issue in the proposed draft of Jan Lokpal Bill, social activist Anna Hazare together with his team member Arvind Kejriwal met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday at her residence 10, Janpath.

Talking to the media after the meeting, Anna said, “We apprised Soniaji about our stand. We asked her to make sure that the right draft should be tabled in the Parliament.”

He further added, “We explained the differences between government’s draft viz-a viz ours to Sonia Gandhi. The talks were fruitful. We explained the six main points of contention in the Lokpal Bill including bringing the Prime Minister under its ambit.”
The Gandhian, however, threatened to go on an indefinite fast from August 16 if a "proper" draft is not brought before Parliament.

Arvind Kejriwal, more forthcoming in his comments, said, “Though they have clarified their stand earlier over the issue of bringing Prime Minister under Lokpal’s ambit, there is no reason to believe that they can’t change it.”

He revealed that the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was also present in the meeting.

Kejriwal also said, “We explained our views on why Prime Minister should be under Lokpal’s ambit. They promised to discuss it with other party leaders and then decide on the issue.”

In the meeting that was marked by "cordiality and courtesy", Gandhi assured Hazare that she will apprise the government of their views once more.

It should be noted that the Gandhian was slated to meet the UPA chairperson two days back but Sonia Gandhi had postponed the meeting. No reason was given for the same.

The meeting took place to discuss the draft of Lokpal Bill. Anna and his team have been meeting various political parties to garner support for their version of the bill. On Friday they met the BJP and before that the Left parties and the JD(U).

Earlier, BJP on Friday made its first serious move to engage on the Lokpal Bill issue with its top brass discussing the two drafts of the proposed legislation and the impact of bringing MPs and higher judiciary in its ambit with civil society activists led by Anna Hazare.

Hazare, along with his team members Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, went to the BJP headquarters here for a meeting with LK Advani and ten other top party leaders, who assured him that the opposition party was fully committed to a "strong and credible" Lokpal.
During the one-and-a-half hour meeting, also attended by Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, the civil society members apprised the BJP leaders of the points of differences between their draft and the draft of the government representatives led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Both maintained that there was no discussion on including the Prime Minister within the ambit of the Lokpal. Team Anna has been making a strong pitch for such a move.

The opposition`s main concern was whether the MPs would continue to enjoy the legal immunity they do for acts done in Parliament once the Lokpal is appointed.

"We were asked whether constitutionally it is possible to have the Lokpal and Lokayukta under the same Bill and about Article 105 (2) of the Constitution (which deals with immunity to MPs for their actions in Parliament). There were a lot of technical questions which were asked," Kejriwal said.

Both the BJP and the civil society members agreed that the Bill should ensure a mechanism by which people of "integrity and independence" are appointed as Lokpal.

After the meeting, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party is "fully committed to a strong and credible Lokpal".

The government has convened an all-party meeting on July 3 to discuss the issue,

The civil society members were of the opinion that the Lokpal Bill should be the same for the Centre and the state and be brought into force simultaneously as was done in the case of RTI.

With PTI Inputs

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