All-party meet on Lokpal bill Sunday (Lead)

July 3rd, 2011 - 3:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) An all-party meet to discuss the Lokpal bill will be held at the prime minister’s residence late Sunday afternoon to evolve a consensus over the contentious parts of the anti-corruption bill.

The meeting is scheduled to start about 4.30 p.m. at 7, Race Course Road, the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The meeting was called by the government to evolve an agreement over the contentious provisions in the draft of the proposed bill, especially on bringing the prime minister and the higher judiciary, under the ambit of an ombudsman - a point on which the civil society is insisting.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Saturday said it would be attending the meeting. The decision was announced by BJP leader L.K. Advani after a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders at his residence.

The all-party meeting comes a day after Gandhian Anna Hazare met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to seek her support for the Jan Lokpal bill - the civil society’s version of the bill.

Political parties remain divided over including the prime minister and judiciary within the ambit of the proposed anti-graft legislation.

Hazare Saturday declared he will go on a fast from Aug 16 if a comprehensive legislation is not brought to parliament.

“If a half-baked bill is sent to parliament, what will the parliament discuss?” Hazare said after the meeting with Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence.

Activist Arvind Kejriwal said civil society representatives had differences on 15 issues with the government representatives on the joint drafting committee.

Hazare and his colleagues had Friday met BJP leaders over the bill.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Saturday said the office of the prime minister should be covered by the Lokpal with adequate safeguards but the judiciary should be kept out of its ambit.

While the Congress favours exclusion of the prime minister and the judiciary from the ambit of the proposed bill, there appears no unanimity in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on the issue so far.

The DMK, an ally of the Congress, has said it has no reservation in bringing the prime minister within the ambit of the Lokpal while the Nationalist Congress Party said that prime minister, judiciary and MPs should be kept out of purview of the Lokpal.

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