Lokpal: No consensus at all-party meet

In the wake of social activist Anna Hazare’s falling health on the ninth day of his indefinite fast, an all-party meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, made an appeal to Hazare to call off his fast.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: In the wake of social activist Anna Hazare’s falling health on the ninth day of his indefinite fast, an all-party meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday, made an appeal to Hazare to call off his fast.

“This meeting of all parties in Parliament requests Sri Anna Hazare to end his fast. The meeting was also of the view that due consideration should be given to the Jan Lokpal Bill so that the Final Draft of the Lokpal Bill provides for a strong and effective Lokpal which is supported by a broad national consensus,” the all-party resolution said.
The meeting was attended by Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, AK Antony, Salman Khurshid, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Kapil Sibal.

Senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and JD (U) president Sharad Yadav were present in the meeting.

Sources present at the all-party meeting said that out of 40 points presented by the civil society in its Jan Lokpal bill, there was complete agreement on 26, broad agreement on seven and persisting differences on the remaining seven.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee briefed the meeting on the negotiations he had held with Team Anna and the persisting differences on some of the major points.

Parties including the BJP, the Left, AGP and RLD, demanded withdrawal of the government version of Lokpal saying it was weak but made it clear that Parliament was supreme and there can be no short-circuiting of procedures.

"Instead of doing patchwork in the old bill it would have been better to bring a new bill. I am not happy," Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said.

The government and its allies, on their part, expressed their reluctance to concede the demand for withdrawal of the government version of Lokpal.

Almost all the parties are of the view that Constitution and Parliamentary procedures cannot be tinkered with as Parliament is supreme.

Government announced in the Rajya Sabha that the Jan Lokpal Bill has been referred by it to the Standing Committee whose chairman Abhishek Singhvi promised that the committee would do "most open, comprehensive and objective analysis" of the Jan Lokpal bill keeping in mind the interests of the nation.

In a bid to end the stalemate over the issue, the government yesterday had announced several concessions to the civil society by reportedly agreeing to bring the Prime Minister under the purview of Lokpal. Both sides also agreed to let the Parliament decide on the inclusion of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the office of the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).

Softening its stance further, Team Anna agreed to the judiciary being covered by a separate bill, provided that the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill is tabled and passed concurrently with the Lokpal Bill in this session of Parliament.

However, the two sides still differ over inclusion of lower bureaucracy, and the provision of having one common bill that covers Lokpal at the Centre and also in the states. Team Anna is adamant that lower bureaucracy be included under the Lokpal Bill while the government says it will come up with another arrangement. The government also wants the states to have their own Lokpal Bills.

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