BeyondHeadlines News Desk
New Delhi: Cracks have started appearing in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over the much talked issue of bringing the prime minister (PM) under Lokpal. Tamil Nadu former chief minister M Karunanidhi-led Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), UPA coalition partner in the Centre, has demanded that the office of the prime minister should come within the ambit of Lokpal, even as a consensus eluded the Lokpal panel after the ninth and final meeting yesterday.
DMK Parliamentary Party Leader TR Baalu yesterday put forward the demand even as party chief Karunanidhi, who was in the capital, skipped yesterday’s UPA meeting.
Although the DMK had always maintained the stand that the PM must be brought under the Lokpal, political observers saw significance with the demand being raised in the current circumstances of party leaders having trouble over the 2G spectrum scam.
Meanwhile, at the final meeting of the Lokpal Bill Drafting Committee, both the Government and the civil society blamed each other for failing to arrive at a common blueprint for the anti-corruption legislation and stuck to their guns on six clauses in the Bill.
While the Government representatives said that they have agreed to disagree on certain issues in the Lokpal Bill; the civil society members said that they were deeply disappointed by the Government’s attitude.
“The draft will be circulated. The suggestions will be kept before the Cabinet. Whatever will be decided after the meeting, will be the final draft and it will be introduced in Parliament in the Monsoon Session. There are disagreements on six issues,” Union Telecom and Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said.
“I hope the differences are resolved. In two-three days the civil society will give their comments on the draft. It will then be taken to the political parties. We had a broad discussion on some of the issues. We have agreed to disagree,” added Sibal.
However, senior lawyer and civil society member Prashant Bhushan criticised the Government’s stand on the proposed Lokpal Bill and said that the proposal put forward by the government will ensure that politicians dominate the anti-corruption body.
“This Lokpal will be dominated by political class. It will be limited to enquire into corruption by senior officers, excluding the Prime Minister, higher judiciary and MPs. The Government has submitted its draft bill to us. For the first time we are able to see what kind of Lokpal the government has in mind. We are deeply disappointed. The Lokpal will be appointed by a political selection committee. The powers and functions have been greatly limited,” said Bhushan.
The issues on which the to sides still differ include: Inclusion of the prime Minister, conduct of MPs in floor of Parliament, inclusion of higher judiciary, merging investigative wings of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Central Vigilance Commission with the Lokpal and selection and removal of the Lokpal.
Another civil society member and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal claimed that the Government’s version of the Lokpal which envisages just one anti-corruption authority for the entire country was not feasible. Kejriwal claimed that the civil society wanted a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas at the state level but the Government did not agree.
Kejriwal said that the Government had not budged on bringing the Prime Minister under the Lokpal’s ambit while Sibal hoped that differences would be resolved after taking it to political parties.
Bhushan added that he was disappointed with the outcome of the meeting with Kejriwal adding that a huge opportunity was missed.