New Delhi: With majority of political parties
batting for Parliamentary supremacy on the Lokpal Bill,
government on Monday expressed confidence that a consensus will
emerge on the issue and the draft legislation would be
introduced in Parliament in the upcoming Monsoon Session.
"We are very happy with the outcome of the all party
meeting yesterday...we are confident we can take the process
forward to bring the Bill in the Monsoon Session and pass it
as soon as possible," Home Minister P Chidambaram said here.
He pointed out that yesterday`s all party meeting called
by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasised the primacy of the
Parliamentary process and the role of political parties to
pilot and approve legislations.
Chidambaram`s remarks reflected a sense of relief in the
government which was so far battling the civil society led by
Anna Hazare on the Lokpal issue alone while receiving flak
from Opposition parties on the issue of corruption.
"We will therefore bring a Bill in the monsoon session of
Parliament. That Bill will be examined. Every effort will be
made to pass the Bill at the earliest. But that will depend on
the members of Parliament and their desire to follow
established procedures," Chidambaram said.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal made it very clear that the
government had promised to bring the Lokpal Bill in the
Parliament in the Monsoon Session but there was no commitment
on the timeline of passing the same.
"We had said we are committed to bringing the Bill in the
monsoon session. We never said it will be passed in the
monsoon session," Sibal said.
The Minister also said that two parties which took part
in the all party meeting suggested that the Bill could be
passed in the Winter Session.
Reflecting their eagerness to build a consensus, the
union ministers said there was nothing wrong in a number of
political parties, including BJP not spelling out their stand
on contentious provisions of the Bill like bringing Prime
Minister and the higher judiciary under Lokpal`s ambit.
Chidambaram said it was "legitimate and valid" that
most parties reserved their views on the provisions of the
Bill till it will be brought before Parliament.
Supporting Chidambaram`s statement, Sibal said that
BJP may be requiring more time to finalize a view on the
Chidambaram described as "preliminary views" opinions
expressed by some political parties for or against bringing
the Prime Minister and the judiciary under Lokpal`s ambit.
"Our impression is that all these views are subject to
change when we go through the procedures," Chidambaram said.
Going a step further Sibal said, "Many of these voices
that you hear will merge into the consensus."
Chidambaram downplayed UPA ally DMK`s strong assertion
that both Prime Minister and the judiciary should be brought
under Lokpal and refused to see a "divide" in the alliance.
"UPA is not a political party. It`s a coalition of
political parties. When you have more than one party, you may
have different views on some issues. That does not mean that
the UPA is divided," Chidambaram said.
He said as long as there is a broad consensus on the
Bill, there is nothing to be alarmed, and suggested the
government has no problem even if some allies express
different views on some provisions of the Bill.
Sibal pointed out that leaders of many political
parties wondered at the definition of the civil society and
wanted to know whether five members led by Hazare represented
the entire civil society of India.
Sibal pointed out that NDA ally Akali Dal has opposed the
inclusion of Prime Minister under Lokpal and said that one of
the parties also felt that there should be no Lokpal at all.
"These are all matters of discussion," he said when asked
about the DMK`s stand on the issue.
The ministers said all the parties that attended the
meeting favoured preparing the Bill in accordance with the
"Whatever laws are to be made, should be within the
Constitution. This is not an occasion to rewrite the
Constitution," Chidambaram said.
The ministers, however, evaded a direct reply when asked
about the proposed fast by Anna Hazare from August 16 if the
government did not bring a "proper" Lokpal Bill in Parliament.
"I do not think we need to assume that there will be a
fast and it will be from August 16. I am sure that the Bill
that the government will introduce in Parliament will satisfy
a vast majority of people," Chidambaram said.
Echoing similar views, Sibal expressed confidence that
people will accept the Bill brought by the government.
Asked about government being attacked by political
parties for involving the civil society members in drafting of
the Bill, Chidambaram said in those circumstances it was felt
that taking Hazare`s team on-board was a better proposition.
When asked about Prime Minister`s remarks on his
inclusion in the ambit of Lokpal, Sibal said the issue
pertains to an institution and its interests have to be
Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal said that the
government was open to suggestions from every segment of the
society, including journalists.