Congress steers clear of demand for Dalit in Lokpal panel

Congress steered clear of the issue of inclusion of a Dalit representative in the Lokpal drafting committee even as senior party leader Digvijay Singh said the demand made by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is valid.

Last Updated: Apr 23, 2011, 19:39 PM IST

New Delhi: Congress on Saturday steered clear
of the issue of inclusion of a Dalit representative in the
Lokpal drafting committee even as senior party leader Digvijay
Singh said the demand made by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister
Mayawati is valid.

"These are matters for the government and the
committee to decide and it is not for the party to comment on
it. As of now there is no change about the committee and
therefore there is no scope for any speculation," party
spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.
He was reacting to questions on Mayawati`s demand for
inclusion of a Dalit representative in the Lokpal drafting
committee, which was also backed by AICC general secretary for
Uttar Pradesh Digvijay Singh.

Singh said: "The demand is right. Even as the Joint
Committee has already been formed and has also begun its work,
but the demand that she has made is valid."

Asked how can the committee expeditiously finalise the
draft for the crucial bill if such demands seeking changes in
the constitution of the committee keep coming up, the senior
Congress leader asked "who has stopped the committee from
working?"

"These statements may come but the committee should
continue its work. We are looking forward to the committee
completing its job and prepare a sound draft bill for a strong
Lokpal."

To questions on his reported attack on Justice
Santosh Hegde, a member of the joint committee, the AICC
general secretary said that he had on the contrary praised
Hegde.

"I have said nothing. I have praised him.
Unfortunately he is relying more on media reports than what I
have actually said," Singh added.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi also said that
after Singh`s categorical clarification there should be no
scope for "misgivings or doubts".

"Rest is for individuals to decide according to their
discretion," he said when asked about Hegde`s earlier
insistence to quit the drafting committee.

Meanwhile, Justice Santosh Hegde today indicated that
he may not resign from the joint drafting committee on Lokpal
Bill after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee`s statement that
the government was looking forward to enacting a strong
anti-corruption legislation.

Hegde, who felt "hurt" on certain statements made by
Singh and had threatened to quit, said he had a talk with
Hazare who told him not to take any "precipitate action" but
discuss with him at a meeting this evening.

"I am bound by the decision the committee takes to be
presided over by Hazare. I was personally hurt at some
statements. Now clarifications have been given and the
statement has come. I have grievances, I am not carrying the
complaint anymore," he said.

PTI