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Minister anguished over bringing PM under Lokpal

Last Updated: Saturday, August 27, 2011 - 16:48

New Delhi: Reflecting the unease in Government
regarding certain provisions of Jan Lokpal Bill, Minister
Ashwani Kumar on Saturday voiced concerns in Rajya Sabha over
demands like bringing the Prime Minister, conduct of MPs
inside Parliament and lower bureaucracy under Lokpal`s ambit.

The Minister of State for Planning said he was "distressed"
by what was going on in Ramlila ground, where Anna Hazare is
on fast for last 12 days demanding the passage of Jan Lokpal
bill by Parliament.

Kumar was the first speaker from the side of the government
and Congress in the House to participate in the discussion on
Lokpal issue that began with Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee`s statement.

While noting that Hazare is a "crusader", the minister
questioned "the kind of guidance that he has received".

Cautioning against provisions for appointment of Lokayuktas
in states as suggested in Hazare`s Jan Lokpal Bill, he said,
"No attempts must be raised which could raise doubts about our
intention, about the integrity of our federal structure."

He cautioned against rushing through the legislation "in
haste or under pressure from people outside the House."
"The Prime Minister is the key stone of our Cabinet arch.
Do we subject him to vexatious and malicious allegations...The
Prime Minister`s Office is at the centre of everything that
leads to sustain integrity, unity of the country... Please
reflect on what should we do..." he said.

When Prakash Javadekar (BJP) asked whether the minister was
expressing his personal views or it was the party line, Kumar
said, "Interpret as you wish. I have said nothing contrary to
what they (government and Congress) have been saying." Kumar
had, however, earlier said that he was presenting his personal
views on the matter.

Unimpressed by suggestions by a few quarters that a way
out could be brining the Prime Minister under the Lokpal but
only after he demits office, Kumar said, "You cannot keep the
sword of Damocles hanging on his head" even years after he

Kumar also disfavoured the demand for bringing the conduct
of MPs inside Parliament under Lokpal - a key provision of the
Jan Lokpal Bill.

"We have sufficient and effective mechanism in our
Constitution," he said, recalling that Parliament had once
expelled 11 MPs during the cash-for-query scam saying it
proved Parliament "would not condone slightest error in public
morality and probity."

On the demand for bringing the lower bureaucracy under
Lokpal purview, he said there were 37 lakh central government
employees. "Can we engineer an alternative system?" he asked.

Kumar said he has "grave doubts" regarding the
functionality and ethics behind this move and added that
"there is no need to flounder or tinker with the established

The minister, at the same time, maintained that "we must
have an effective Lokpal bill."


First Published: Saturday, August 27, 2011 - 16:48

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