New Delhi: Leaders of political parties across the country on Sunday began confabulations to try and evolve a consensus on Lokpal Bill following a meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to thrash out differences between members of the drafting committee representing the Civil Society and the government.
The Civil Society members are keen to bring the Prime Minister and Higher Judiciary under the ambit of the Lok Pal Bill.
The crucial meeting can pave way for the introduction of the Bill in Parliament, possible in the Monsoon Session, if consensus is reached between the political parties.
Besides the Prime Minister, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, M Veerappa Moily, Salman Khurshid, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel and TR Baalu attended the meeting from the UPA side.
The Opposition side comprised of BJP leaders LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav, SS Dhindsa (Akali Dal), Sitaram Yechury (CPIM), Gurudas Dasgupta and D Raja (CPI), Lalu Prasad (RJD), V Maitreyan and others.
Among the other contentious issues to be discussed at the meeting are whether the proposed Legislation would cover MPs’ conduct inside Parliament, the CBI and CVC.
Welcoming the gathering, the Prime Minister reminded them that enactment of a strong Lokpal bill has attracted a lot of attention during the past few months.
He added that the Centre had constituted a joint drafting committee consisting of five Union Ministers and five nominees of social activist Anna Hazare including himself.
Dr Manmohan Singh added that the committee had nine meetings. “While considerable progress was achieved in evolving a consensus on many issues, a few important issues remain on which there is a divergence in our views and those of the nominees of Anna Hazare,” the Prime Minister said.
He added that, “There is no doubt that corruption is a major issue today. It is not that we do not have legal and institutional arrangements in place to tackle corruption. In fact, we have a number of laws, like the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Central Vigilance Commission Act, the Right to Information Act etc. which empower citizens to have access to information and which provide for stringent action against delinquents. However, there is a feeling that the institutional arrangements in place are not strong enough to ensure that the guilty, especially those occupying high positions, are brought to book swiftly and given deterrent punishment.”
Calling for the widest possible consensus regarding the bill, Dr Manmohan Singh said that the Centre is looking forward to a free and frank discussion on contentious issues.(INN)