Hazare meets Sonia, parties differ on PM under Lokpal (Roundup)

July 2nd, 2011 - 11:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Social activist Anna Hazare met Congress president Sonia Gandhi Saturday to seek her support for the Jan Lokpal bill ahead of Sunday’s all-party meeting as political parties remained divided over including the prime minister and judiciary within the ambit of the proposed anti-graft legislation.

Hazare said 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.

Hazare, who was accompanied by his civil society colleague on the joint drafting panel Arvind Kejriwal, said Gandhi assured them that she will discuss their suggestions with her colleagues.

After the meeting, Kejriwal said the civil society representatives wanted the prime minister and the judiciary to be included within the ambit of the Lokpal. They had differences on 15 issues with the government representatives on the joint drafting committee, which concluded its meetings last month, he added.

Congress leaders Janardan Dwivedi and Mohsina Kidwai were also present when Hazare and Kejriwal met Sonia Gandhi for 20 minutes.

Hazare and his colleagues had Friday met Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders over the Lokpal bill.

Taking a categorical position before the all-party meeting, 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.

“The prime minister should be brought under the purview of the Lokpal with adequate safeguards,” party general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters.

While suggesting that “the judiciary too needs to be brought under scrutiny”, Karat said he did not favour the higher judiciary within the Lokpal’s purview.

The party has favoured setting up a national judicial commission at the earliest.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Saturday announced it will take part in the all-party meeting Sunday, bringing to end speculation that it may not attend the meeting over the government not consulting opposition parties during the initial drafting of the proposed bill.

The decision was announced by BJP leader L.K. Advani after a meeting of NDA leaders at his residence.

“We will go (for the meeting on Sunday) and convey our viewpoint,” he said, adding the BJP wants that the bill should be such that it results in an effective and strong Lokpal.

Advani said the Shiv Sena had conveyed that it will not attend the meeting but the party may change its stance after the NDA’s decision.

While the Congress Friday favoured exclusion of the prime minister and the judiciary from the ambit of the proposed Lokpal bill, there appears no unanimity in the ruling United Progressive Alliance 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.

The Nationalist Congress Party said that prime minister, judiciary and MPs should be kept out of purview of the Lokpal.

“The prime minister, judiciary and conduct of MPs in parliament should be out of purview of the Lokpal,” NCP spokesman D.P. Tripathi told IANS.

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