States ruled by the National Democratic Alliance is planning to draft a joint letter, refusing to give their views on the Lokpal bill , solicited by the Union government .
They are likely to take the ground that Parliament was supreme and that political parties and states were not duty-bound to offer responses to civil society demands. They are expected to tell the Government that they would spell out their stands on the floor of the two Houses of Parliament.
Following the deadlock with Anna Hazare’s team on the Lokpal bill, drafting committee chief Pranab Mukherjee had written to leaders of political parties and state Governments seeking their views on several points raised by civil society activists. In his letter, Mukherjee had asked whether Supreme Court and high court judges and activities of Members of Parliament inside the House should be brought under the purview of the Lokpal, as demanded by the activists.
NDA seems to have decided not to bail out the Government faced with a deadlock on drafting the bill. NDA-ruled states, which include Bihar, Punjab, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand, are said to be in the process of drafting a letter outlining their response to Mukherjee. The development does not augur well for the Manmohan Singh Government, trying to overcome the perception that it has failed to rein in corruption at high places.
Besides thwarting the Centre’s attempts to get Opposition parties on board, Mukherjee’s letter has presented an opportunity for NDA to reopen channels of communication with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik , who had quit NDA on the eve of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Since then, he had kept a safe distance from UPA and NDA.
Armed with BJP’s go-ahead, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is in talks with his Odisha counterpart to draft a common and concerted response to Mukherjee’s May 31 letter. The Union Finance Minister in his capacity as Chairman of the Lok Pal drafting committee had in his letter sought the opinion of leaders and state Governments on six contentious issues, including whether the prime minister should be brought under the purview of the Lokpal. Economic Times