Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is learnt to have indicated to his party colleagues that he is willing to be brought under the ambit of the proposed Lokpal.
This marks a potentially pivotal stand on a thorny issue in the standoff between the government and the civil society activists demanding a strong anti-graft legislation. But the Congress core committee, which deliberated on the issue on Friday, could not arrive at a consensus on the matter.
“The drafting panel will take a final call on the issue,” said Congress spokesman after the meeting. Activist Anna Hazare and his associates have been demanding that the PM and the higher judiciary must be brought under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal, a proposal that has found little favour with the government thus far.
At a press conference on Thursday, HRD minister Kapil Sibal had said the Prime Minister was one among equals in the comity of nations and headed a government of 1.2 billion people.
“A man occupying such an office, he argued, should not be subject to a parallel structure such as the proposed Lokpal. Don’t think of the person, think of the institution,” Sibal had said. The PM’s stand on the matter, if accepted by the Congress, will force the civil society activists, seen as rigid and inflexible in their demands, to be more accommodating.
With the prime minister himself in favour of such a move, the latent firepower in the standoff could be defused. The PM’s position might also help the government’s negotiators to buy time and flexibility from the civil society activists. Hazare has announced a resumption of his fast unto death from 16 August, promising in its wake yet another political crisis for the government.
The Congress party has so far not been in favour of bringing the PM under the Lokpal. When the party’s general secretary Digvijay Singh issued a statement saying the PM should be brought under the Lokpal, the party was quick to issue its own statement, saying that was the view of the general secretary and did not necessarily mirror that of the party. Digvijay Singh had to clarify later that he would go by the party’s line on the matter. Economic Times