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I can be under Lokpal,definitely not the higher judiciary: PM

Singh feels this would be unconstitutional; also doubts all civil servants can be brought under it.

Shutting up the clamour for his views on the Lokpal Bill,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday emphatically ruled out the inclusion of the higher judiciary within the scope of the anti-corruption ombudsman.

Singh said bringing the higher judiciary under the jurisdiction of Lokpal would be contrary to the Constitutional scheme of things. He is confident a national consensus will soon emerge on the proposed Lokpal Bill.

“There are clear reservations on this,” he said. Judiciary must be encouraged to find its ways and means to regulate its own affairs consistent with the spirit of the Constitution,he said.

“How would the Supreme Court pronounce on complex issues if it is subject to the jurisdiction of the Lokpal,” Singh asked.

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Though he doesn’t mind being subjected to the Lokpal’s scrutiny,Singh also said his Cabinet colleagues have advised him such a move would bring instability to the institution of the Prime Minister. This can go out of hand,he warned.

“I,for one,have no hesitation in bringing myself under the purview of the Lokpal,” he said.

On civil society members’ demand for a Lokpal structure that would cover all civil servants in both Centre and states,he said: “I have doubt whether our system will be able to stand that strain. Let us concentrate on corruption in high places which is most obnoxious.”

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Singh said the reason why he had taken the trouble to interact with civil society members is testimony to the fact that he has “respect” for them.

He had met Anna Hazare in March and assured him the government was committed to bringing a Lokpal Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament which then had to decide whether to pass it or amend it.

Several meetings between the government and civil society members of the Lokpal drafting committee have failed to throw up solutions to these sticking points. With Singh’s views clear,all eyes are now on the all-party meet next week which will debate the differences in the two Bill drafts,leaving it ultimately to the Union Cabinet to decide which one goes through to Parliament.

PM has failed to control prices: BJP

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New Delhi: Refusing to buy Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s argument that his government is not “lame duck and comatose”,the BJP today said the economist PM had failed to control prices,check corruption and take the opposition along on issues like the Lokpal Bill.

“The Prime Minister tried to argue against his failures… On price rise,he said prices are going up around the world. But to claim that inflation is increasing globally is wrong. It is in India due to the bad governance and wrong and corrupt policies of this government,” BJP President Nitin Gadkari told reporters.

“Corruption in this government has also led to price rise,” he alleged.

The BJP maintained though the Congress-led UPA had stated in its 2009 manifesto that it would check price rise,it had failed to do so.

“The Prime Minister had said from the Red Fort that prices would be controlled within 100 days. In March,he said price rise would be checked. Today he is saying he does not have a magic wand to control prices… The economist Prime Minister has completely failed his examination. He has betrayed the nation,” Gadkari said.

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He insisted Rs 70,000 crore worth of foodgrains were being allowed to rot every year while half the country’s population has a daily income of less than Rs 20.

Gadkari refuted the Prime Minister’s charge that the Opposition is not cooperating with the government,saying it was Singh’s regime which had not taken the BJP on board on the Lokpal issue.

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“Both Leaders of the Opposition (in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) are very important leaders. But the government did not consult them on the Lokpal Bill,” Gadkari said.

Gadkari said the government approached the Opposition only when it found the going tough on the Lokpal Bill due to differences with civil society members.

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The Opposition,however,did not reveal its stand on the Lokpal Bill — including on whether the Prime Minister should be under the ambit of the ombudsman — and only stated that it will speak on the issue during the all-party meeting on July 3 or when the Bill comes up in Parliament.

Asked about Singh’s comments at the interaction with editors that he enjoyed the confidence of the Congress President,Gadkari said a general secretary of the ruling

party — “close to Sonia Gandhi” — has already stated who should become Prime Minister.

He was referring to Digvijay Singh’s reported comments that Rahul Gandhi has all the qualities of a good Prime Minister.

“After getting this indication,he (PM) should himself think about this. Why should we say…,” Gadkari said.

Gadkari also criticised the Prime Minister on the crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s supporters at Ramlila grounds.

“Four ministers of the government had gone- with the Prime Minister’s permission- to the airport to give a red-carpet welcome to Baba Ramdev. A few days later,a well – behaved crowd was brutally lathi-charged. The Prime Minister should clarify if he ordered it and what was the provocation,” Gadkari said.

The Prime Minister had stated in his interaction with the editors that the crackdown was unfortunate but there was no alternative.

Terming the police action as “undemocratic and unjust behaviour”,Gadkari said,“Is it a crime to speak against corruption and Black money? And now a Congress leader has said the treatment given to Baba Ramdev will be meted out to Anna Hazare too.”

First published on: 29-06-2011 at 04:31:47 pm
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