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PM holds consultations with UPA allies on Lokpal

On the eve of the all-party meeting on Lokpal issue, Manmohan Singh on Tuesday night held consultations with UPA constituents.



New Delhi: On the eve of the all-party
meeting on Lokpal issue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday night
held consultations with UPA constituents after which a "broad
consensus" was reported on the approach to the matter.

RLD leader Ajit Singh, who joined UPA yesterday, was among
those who attended the two-hour meeting held at the Prime
Minister`s residence.

Briefing media persons, Home Minister P Chidambaram said
leaders of all parties expressed their views and discussions
were "very fruitful" and "very extensive" on the issue.

"Parties discussed the (Parliamentary) Standing Committee
report on the Lokpal. The parties discussed the approach for
the all-party meeting tomorrow. They will express their views
in the meeting tomorrow," he said.

"There is a broad consensus in the UPA-II on the approach
to the Lokpal," Chidambaram said.

He expressed the hope that that tomorrow`s meeting would
be "productive and we can reach conclusions on the amendments
to the draft Lokpal bill and bring it before Parliament."

Among those present at the meeting were Congress president
Sonia Gandhi, Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Chairman of the
Parliament Standing Committee on Law and Personnel Abhishek
Singhvi and Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy.

The PM`s consultations with allies came amidst
intense pressure on the government from political parties to
include the Prime Minister, Group C and D employees and the
anti-corruption wing of CBI within the purview of the Lokpal
Bill.

BJP, the Left and BSP are expected to press these issues
in tomorrow`s meeting as the Standing Committee has kept these
out.

Hours before consultations with UPA allies, the Prime
Minister discussed the Bill with Sonia Gandhi and top Congress
leaders and ministerial colleagues in the Core Group in the
afternoon.

Singhvi also attended that meeting and is understood to
have briefed the leaders about the pros and cons of various
issues concerning the measure.

Ahead of the meeting, Congress had called upon all the
parties within the UPA and outside to sit together and try to
evolve a political consensus.

The Lokpal Bill is expected to come up for consideration
in the Lok Sabha on December 20, two days ahead of the
conclusion of the current session of Parliament, amid the
looming threat of hunger strike by Anna Hazare.

PTI

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