‘Referring Lokpal bill to RS panel consulted with parties'
New Delhi: Rejecting allegations that the government sprung a surprise by referring the Lokpal bill to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister PK Bansal on Wednesday said political parties were consulted before taking the move.
"I regret that such allegations are being made," he said when asked about the claims that the government took help of Samajwadi Party to have the draft anti-graft law referred to a Rajya Sabha committee.
At a press conference here, Bansal said the government was keen on the passage of the Lokpal Bill even on the last day of the budget session on Tuesday but it was battling with a number of amendments.
Asked about criticism of Team Anna for not bringing its version of the Bill to Parliament, the minister said there has to be a difference between mobocracy and democracy.
"We have to differentiate between mobocracy and democracy. Government should be sensitive and sensitised about views expressed outside the House but we cannot turn a proposal made by a handful of people into law," Bansal said.
He said discussions were going on with the Opposition and other parties on amendments to the Lokpal Bill when SP member Naresh Agarwal suggested that the Bill be referred to a select committee.
Bansal insisted there was nothing constitutionally incorrect in Agarwal moving the motion in the Rajya Sabha and it was done in accordance with the law.
The minister said the names of members of the select committee, to which the Bill was referred, were decided after consultations with all the parties concerned.
While BJP has given three names, BSP, SP, DMK and Trinamool Congress have also given names of their representatives in the committee, Bansal said.
He said AIADMK and BJD separately did not qualify for membership of the select committee because of their strength in the upper House. However, the government asked them to name their consensus candidate after which AIADMK decided to nominate V Maitreyan as member of the committee.
"It would have been same whether a private member or the the government would have read out the list which was prepared after consultation with all concerned parties," he said.
He said the government was determined to pass a good Lokpal Bill with the consent of all political parties.
On allegations that the government had pre-planned to refer the Bill to a select committee by hobnobbing with some parties, Bansal said discussions were held with all parties strictly in consonance with the principles of democracy.
"We had talked to everybody and such talks should happen. It was a collective decision," he said.
Asked why he did not mention this when he was facing Opposition fire in the Rajya Sabha, Bansal said he chose not to disclose in the House whatever was discussed outside.
Bansal said he had objected to BJP member Rajiv Pratap Rudy's comments on the composition of the panel, pointing out that his consent was taken as per Parliamentary rules.
To a question, Bansal said the government cannot accept the demand to bring the CBI under the Lokpal as the government has many responsibilities.
Bansal said discussions with political parties on the Lokpal Bill had continued till May 21 and some agreements on bringing useful amendments like doing away with Lokayukta appointment clause and changes in the procedures to remove a Lokpal were arrived at.