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Bluffmaster poster

The contrary stands taken on the issue of the Lokpal by each of our political parties in different forums may remind us of the B-movie called Bluffmaster. The Hindu reports on the all-party meeting on this issue yesterday:

There is a question mark on adoption of the Lokpal Bill in the current session of Parliament, which is scheduled to end on December 22, as consensus on the contentious issues eluded an all-party meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday night.

The government, on its part, hinted that it had no issue with the spirit of the Parliament resolution. These are — the Citizen’s Charter, inclusion of the lower bureaucracy under the Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism, and establishment of the Lokayukta in States. But the Opposition is divided even on these. The BJP was keen on including Group C and D employees within the Lokpal, but the CPI was firmly against this.

Earlier in the day, even Central Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar expressed reservations on about the proposal. CBI chief A.P. Singh, who met the Prime Minister separately, voiced concerns about the demand for bringing his organisation within the ambit of the Lokpal.

With the winter session scheduled to end on December 22 and the threat of another indefinite fast by Mr. Hazare looming, the government was keen on reaching consensus among all parties to ensure that the Lokpal Bill did not a hit a road block when it came up for consideration in the Lok Sabha. However, sharp differences voiced by leaders of various parties suggest that it will be an uphill task for the government to ensure smooth sailing of the Bill in the current session.

A broad agreement among UPA partners at Tuesday’s meeting had raised hopes of the government getting most of the parties on board and arriving at consensus to secure the smooth passage of the Bill. The government can still push it through if it succeeds in roping in some of the opposing groups. However, what is certain is that the ‘game changer’ proposal of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to accord constitutional status to the Lokpal would go for a toss.

The Opposition leaders, according to Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan, conveyed to the government that it should not be seen doing any thing “in a hurry” or under pressure from any quarter. There were suggestions that a special session of Parliament could be convened to allow time for evolving consensus. But the moot question is, if the political class in Parliament could not agree on the contours of the Bill from August till date, will it be reasonable to expect such agreement in the next few weeks.

The Chandigarh Tribune reports:

Most parties, including the BJP, CPM, Samajwadi Party and Akali Dal, agreed that the Prime Minister should be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal but with riders. Ram Vilas Paswan, however, did not want the PM to be placed under the ombudsman’s purview.

CPM’s Sitaram Yechury and BJP’s Sushma Swaraj wanted the Lokpal to have powers to investigate corruption cases against the 57 lakh Group C government employees, but CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta argued against it on the plea that it would overburden the proposed Lokpal.

Although the government did not spell out its stand at the meeting, it is willing to accept the conditional inclusion of the Prime Minister and Class C employees under the ambit of the proposed Lokpal, as demanded by the Opposition and Team Anna.

There were also different views on the status of the CBI, which remains a sticking point. Yechury stated that the Lokpal would be ineffective if the CBI’s investigative wing or an independent investigative wing was not placed under its charge.

However, the status of the CBI is a sticking point. The BJP wants the Lokpal to have administrative control over the CBI and greater autonomy for the agency’s investigative wing. Samajwadi Party’s Mohan Singh said that the Lokpal should have powers to monitor only those cases which are referred by it to the CBI’s investigative wing.

Anna Hazare will use his brahmastra again, reports IBN Live:

The government today asked activist Anna Hazare not to dictate the terms for when the new anti-corruption Lokpal Bill should be passed as a law. Anna, who is 74, has said he will begin a hunger strike on December 27, most likely in Mumbai, if a powerful Bill is not passed by Parliament before its session wraps on December 21. “You have extended sessions before, you can do it now,” Anna said, refusing to move his deadline for a law that will create a new ombudsman agency – the Lokpal- empowered to investigate government servants for corruption.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

December 15, 2011 at 4:15 am

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