Row won`t affect drafting of Lokpal Bill: Govt

Hazare had written a letter to Sonia Gandhi alleging a smear campaign by some Congress leaders.

New Delhi: Government on Friday said
controversies involving some civil society members of the
joint committee for drafting the Lokpal Bill would not affect
its working and will work with the members to prepare a
"strong and sound" anti-corruption legislation.

After a meeting of Congress` Core Group headed by Sonia
Gandhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by her side, Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjee said controversies "won`t affect"
the working of Lokpal Bill drafting panel.
"Contrversiies have been raised about members of the
joint committee on the Lokpal Bill. I would like to make it
clear that the view of government as also the view of party,
the Congress, the working of Lokpal Bill drafting panel won`t
be affected by these controversies.

"Goverment members of the committee look forward to
working with Anna Hazare and his colleagues on the committee
and to draft a strong and sound Lokpal Bill to fight
corruption," he said.

Mukherjee`s remarks came after a 90-minute meeting of the
Core Group that discussed the issues threadbare.

Hazare had written a letter to Gandhi earlier this week
alleging a smear campaign by some Congress leaders and sought
to know whether the exercise had her sanction. Replying to it,
Gandhi had said her party did not support any kind of smear
campaign and was committed to rooting out corruption.
Mukherjee`s statement came a day after the Prime
Minister`s remarks that government hopes to introduce during
the monsoon session of Parliament the Lokpal Bill on which a
committee of Ministers and representatives of civil society
are working.

Admitting that there is little public tolerance for the
prevailing state of affairs on the issue of corruption,
Singh had yesterday said that his government is committed to
facing this challenge boldly as people expect swift and
exemplary action.

Senior Congress leader Digvijay
Singh, in the thick of a controversy over remarks on the
Lokpal committee members Shanti and Prashant Bhushan and
Justice Santosh Hegde, said Congress and the government would
in no way hamper the work of the joint committee to draft the
Lokpal Bill.

The Congress general secretary, who has raised questions
over Shanti Bhushan and his son getting land in Noida and
alleged evasion of stamp duty in Allahabad, said the party or
the government had no objection to their continuance in the
committee but left it to their conscience whether they should
remain in it.

He said he had at no time attacked Justice Hegde but only
raised a question that if the best Lokayukta in Karnataka
cannot stop "rampant corruption" in the state then a serious
thought should be given to the system.

He dismissed suggestions that Congress and some of its
leaders were behind the attacks on the civil society members.


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