Govt reaches out to Oppn to evolve consensus on Lokpal Bill

The government today said it wants the Lokpal Bill to come in the Rajya Sabha after evolving consensus among the political parties.

New Delhi: In a bid to evolve consensus on the Lokpal Bill before it is brought to Rajya Sabha, government on Thursday reached out to the Opposition and other parties to thrash out differences and ensure smooth passage of the proposed legislation.

Union Ministers Kapil Sibal, Salman Kurshid, Pawan Kumar Bansal and V Narayansamy met Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley in Parliament House to discuss the Lokpal Bill.

BJP is adamant on two main issues, namely, that the process of appointment and removal of the Lokpal be made more democratic and the CBI be kept out of government control.

Sources said government is coming around to the view that the state Lokayukta be kept out of the Lokpal Bill and a model law be passed by Parliament to enable states to create their own Lokayukta.

Opposition ruled states as well as West Bengal, where ally TMC is in power, are against the Lokayukta clause in the Bill.

These Union Ministers are also likely to meet CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury and leaders from other parties to discuss their views.

Other than the issues of appointment and removal of the ombudsman and keeping CBI out of government control, the Left wants foreign-funded NGOs to be brought under the Lokpal.

"We would like the Bill to come to Rajya Sabha only after there is a consensus. If the Bill is brought and then consensus is sought in the House, it would lead to certain problems," Law Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters.

On Anna Hazare`s demand for appointing Lokayukta in states, Khurshid said Hazare`s supporters in Delhi are accusing the government of trying to keep it out of Lokpal Bill.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had held an all-party meeting on March 23 to resolve the issues regarding the Bill. Though the meeting failed to evolve a consensus, it was decided that parties will continue negotiations on the Bill.

The Bill could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha in the Winter Session last year. The House was adjourned sine die amid high drama with the opposition accusing the government of running away from a vote because it was in a minority.

The Bill, which was earlier passed in the Lok Sabha in the same session, was brought in the Upper House on the last day of the Winter session and key UPA constituent Trinamool Congress refused to bail out the government there.

Even in the all-party meeting this year, opposition parties and key allies like Trinamool Congress and DMK had opposed the provision for setting up Lokayuktas in states along with Lokpal and wanted that states be given the freedom to decide on it.