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Day before Sonia-Anna meet,Cong makes it clear: No PM under Lokpal

The PM,the party said,could be brought under the Lokpal’s purview once he demits office.

A day before party president Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with Anna Hazare and his associates,the Congress today said it was opposed to moves aimed at bringing the Prime Minister and higher judiciary under the ambit of the proposed Lokpal. The Prime Minister,the party said,could be brought under the Lokpal’s purview once he demits office.

The BJP kept its cards close to its chest though it was learnt to have indicated to Team Anna,which came calling at the BJP headquarters,that it was not in favour of including the conduct of MPs inside Parliament and the higher judiciary under the Lokpal.

After this meeting,the BJP top brass met separately to deliberate on the issues raised by Anna and his team. Sources said that while the party had not made up its mind on the key issue of including the PM under the Lokpal’s ambit,many senior leaders were of the view that the party should not deviate from its original stance of including the PM,though with some safeguards.

There is also a strong view in the BJP against attending the all-party meeting called on July 3 by the government to ascertain the views of different parties on contentious issues regarding the proposed Lokpal Bill.

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“We don’t have a Cabinet-approved draft of the Lokpal Bill as of now. So there is no point attending the all-party meeting. A final decision will,however,be taken at the NDA meeting tomorrow,” a senior BJP leader told The Indian Express.

The Congress today gave up its ambivalence to spell out its stance. Party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: “Our stand is very clear,though it is not a conclusive stand and is subject to decisions taken in the Cabinet and,most importantly,to the collective will of Parliament. We are of the view that the two institutions of Prime Minister and Judiciary should not be brought under the Lokpal’s ambit.”

“If the Prime Minister is brought under Lokpal,it would lead to inherent instability in democratic and Parliamentary governance. It is not about an individual but an institution. We have to think about the stability of the institution,” Singhvi said.


On Wednesday,Hazare said that he would try to persuade Sonia Gandhi to support the inclusion of the Prime Minister under Lokpal. “If the Prime Minister is saying so,what is the problem?” he had said,referring to Manmohan Singh’s remarks to newspaper editors that he would have “no hesitation” in bringing himself under the Lokpal’s purview.

“There is absolutely no contradiction between what the Prime Minister says or we say or what the general view of the party and the government is. The Prime Minister,as an individual,is entitled to say it. It is in keeping with his persona. We are not talking about him as an individual. We are talking of the PM as an institution,” Singhvi said.

He demanded that the BJP spell out its stand on including the PM and higher judiciary under the Lokpal’s ambit. “The BJP has once again proved that it puts politics above national interest,evasion over constructive support,obfuscation over concrete action. Are they perhaps not the only party without a stand on the Lokpal Bill? They have no stand either on the government’s draft or civil society’s draft on it,” Singhvi said.


Meanwhile,Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said that the Congress president’s meeting with Hazare on Saturday would be a mere “formality”.

“The Congress party has given them the space which they wanted by drafting them in the drafting committee. Now,they should leave it to Parliament which is accountable to the people of this country. I would not give it (Saturday’s meeting) a lot of significance. It is a formality. But I am happy that Hazare is coming to meet Soniaji. Some sense will prevail,” Singh said.

First published on: 02-07-2011 at 02:35:57 am
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