NDA, Left attend all-party Lokpal meeting (Lead)

July 3rd, 2011 - 7:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) Major opposition groups, including the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Left parties, are attending an all-party meet to discuss the Lokpal bill being held at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here Sunday.

Besides the prime minister, the meeting is being attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders Bausudeb Acharia and Sitaram Yechury.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of efforts by the government to evolve a consensus on the anti-graft bill following meetings of a joint drafting committee comprising civil society members and central ministers.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister M. Veerapa Moily, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid, the government’s nominees on the drafting committee, are also attending the all-party meeting.

The drafting committee, which ended its deliberations last month, saw differences between civil society representatives and the government on several issues relating to the bill, including inclusion of the prime minister and the judiciary in its ambit.

Civil society activists led by Anna Hazare held series of meetings with political parties ahead of all-party meeting to seek their support.

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

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

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 conduct of MPs in parliament should be kept out of purview of the Lokpal.

The 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.

The parties attending the meeting include Janata Dal-United, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, DMK, AIADMK, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Telugu Desam Party.

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