Congress looks to accommodate Anna’s demands
New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday made an attempt to keep the focus of Lokpal debate in Lok Sabha on the three demands made by Anna Hazare, but shied away from committing itself to any of these.
Speaking on behalf of the Congress, Sandeep Dikshit said it is better to convey a sense of the House to Anna Hazare than indulge in political arguments for cheap publicity.
Addressing the Lok Sabha after Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s speech, Dikshit asked: “Should we respond to BJP’s barbs or Anna’s demand?”
He sought to drive home the point that the House could first debate and reach consensus on the three specific demands of Team Anna and convey it to Anna Hazare so that he can break his fast. “Then we can then carry on with the discussion today and even next week,” he stated.
In his speech, Dikshit stressed on the need to have a model bill to discuss the Lokpal provisions.
On the issue of including the Prime Minister under Lokpal’s purview, Dikshit said there is a need to take a concerted view on the issue and the view has to be relevant to present times.
On the issue of MPs’ conduct inside Parliament coming under Lokpal’s ambit, Dikshit said his party was not in favour of this.
If MPs are under constant scrutiny inside Parliament, they won’t be able to function normally, he stressed.
“We need to safeguard MPs rights from outside agencies,” he stated.
On the demand of having Lokayuktas in states, the Congress MP favoured state governments taking a call on this.
“We can have an enabling provision… or we can have the government coming up with a model bill on Lokayuktas in states,’ Dikshit said.
On the issue of judiciary, Dikshit said they do not agree with the proposal of including judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal but instead said that the government is already working on a Judicial Accountability Bill and is ready for suggestions from all quarters, including Team Anna.
“Judiciary’s independence should not be curtailed,” he stressed.
On the issue of the selection of Lokpal committee members, the Congress MP said the same should be done based on consensus of all parties.
Spelling out his party’s stand on Citizen’s Charter as demanded by Team Anna, Dikshit said they are in favour of a separate bill to address citizens grievances.
On the issue of including lower bureaucracy under Lokpal, Dikshit said his party agrees on this demand, but believes there is a need to work out an institutional framework for which time was needed.
Dikshit said his party favours the Lokpal to cover the non-governmental organisations, stressing there is need for probity in working of corporate as well as NGOs.