BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter
New Delhi: Following the footstep of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Left parties have informed the government that hey would make their views on the Lokpal Bill clear only after its draft was ready.
While giving separate replies to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s letter, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) General Secretary Prakash Karat and Communist Party of India (CPI) General Secretary AB Bardhan refused to respond to his questionnaire on provisions of the Lokpal Bill. While Karat said his party had views that went beyond the six queries posed by the minister, Bardhan slammed the government for “ignoring” political parties when the drafting committee, comprising government and civil society representatives, was set up.
“Our party has definite views on the nature and scope of the Lokpal authority to be set-upa¦ The issues that need to be considered are not necessarily confined to the six questions which you have posed to be answered in yes or no terms,” Karat said. He said the government should prepare a draft of the Lokpal legislation on which the party will be able to give its views. “You can seek our views before it is presented to Parliament. If that is not possible, then we shall certainly express our views on the draft through the parliamentary procedures,” he said.
In a letter to joint Lokpal bill drafting committee chairman and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee , CPI general secretary AB Bardhan said at no stage were the political parties involved or ever consulted during the entire process of constituting the joint drafting committee.
Bardhan, who said the CPI did not see why it was called upon at this stage to seek views of political parties, said “we are not aware who gave the mandate to the joint drafting committee”. He said the party had no access or knowledge of the issues that came up during discussions within the joint drafting committee. “Answers are sought by you to some issues in ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as in an objective test. We think this is a very casual way of inquiring from us on such an urgent, sensitive and important matter,” he said in the letter.
He said the CPI was keen on an effective Lokpal Bill. “We insist that such a draft should be brought in the forthcoming monsoon session of Parliament. There can be no further delay. We as a political party will most certainly state our views and suggestions during the discussion on the bill in the Parliament and also say and write about them whenever we find it necessary,” he said.
Among the issues on which the government has sought the views of political parties are contentious ones like whether the prime minister and judiciary should be brought within the purview of the Lokpal. The government and civil society members have been at loggerheads on these issues. Mukherjee wrote to all chief ministers and political parties seeking their views, saying the Centre felt all stakeholders needed to be consulted on some “basic issues”.