New Delhi: In a significant development, the government on Monday claimed that there has been forward movement in its talks with the civil society members over the drafting of a strong Lokpal Bill.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, senior union minister and member of the drafting committee Kapil Sibal said, “There was a frank exchange of views and in a sense, on a range of issues there was a broad consensus. I think it is a major step forward. “
“Both sides feel that we should move towards consensus and where there are significant areas of divergence, to formulate a draft in which those areas will be spelt out,” Sibal added.
“I think it is a major breakthrough, because on the basis of the broad agreement… I think a strong Lokpal Bill will be put in place,” the union HRD minister said, adding, “Almost on 85% of clauses there is complete agreement.”
On the next course of action, SIbnal said the panel will be meeting again tomorrow and will finalise the draft, which in turn will be sent to all political parties, followed by its tabling in the Parliament.
However, team Anna appeared not too convinced with the claims about ‘forward movement’.
Prashant Bhushan said that that the meeting was cordial and there was consensus on some issues but the differences still persist.
Another prominent member of the civil society group, Arvind Kejriwal said, “I don’t know about any agreements but yes we discussed issues in a cordial atmosphere.”
However, Anna Hazare expressed happiness on the progress achieved. He said: “Gaadi wapas patari par aa gayi (the train is back on the track).”
Except Justice Santosh Hegde, all members of the ten member committee attended the meeting at Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee`s office in North Block.
The main point of disagreement between the two sides has been the inclusion of the Prime Minister and higher judiciary under the ambit of the Lokpal.
While the government has virtually ruled out bringing the post of the Prime Minister under the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog, Congress Core Group has favoured convening an all-party meeting on the issue of inclusion of the PM.
The government is also opposed to bringing the conduct of MPs inside Parliament under the Lokpal’s purview. The civil society side led by Anna Hazare, however, wants these under the anti- corruption ombudsman.