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Updated: December 15, 2011 03:51 IST

Consensus eludes all-party meet on Lokpal

B. Muralidhar Reddy
Comment (11)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi interact with Opposition leaders at an all-party meeting on the Lokpal Bill in New Delhi on Wednesday. In the photo at the bottom are BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra, BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and L.K. Advani and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, among others.
Photos: PTI
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi interact with Opposition leaders at an all-party meeting on the Lokpal Bill in New Delhi on Wednesday. In the photo at the bottom are BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra, BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and L.K. Advani and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, among others.

Disagreement on bringing CBI under ombudsman; government faces uphill task in ensuring smooth sailing for Bill

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.

Bringing the Central Bureau of Investigation within the ambit of the Lokpal was one of the key issues over which there was division between the ruling UPA and the Opposition, and even within the Opposition. As an Opposition party leader, who took part in the 4-hour deliberations put it, the meeting was almost a “replay” of the show at the Parliamentary Committee, which considered the various provisions of the Bill in some detail.

The committee report, with dissent notes appended on 17 issues, raised more questions than it sought to answer. It failed even to reflect Parliament's ‘sense of the House' resolution, stamping its approval ‘in principle' on three main demands of Team Anna.

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.

At the meet, the government lent its ear to the leaders of various parties and did not commit itself on several specific issues. UPA troubleshooter and Finance Minister Pranab Mukheree told the leaders at the end of the meeting that the government would factor in their views when the Cabinet met on December 18/19.

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.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Singh struck a conciliatory note and indicated that his government was flexible on the three contentious issues in the Bill.

However, there is no clarity on the government position on bringing the CBI within the ambit of the Lokpal and on the concerns of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) over inclusion of Group C employees. On Wednesday morning, the chiefs of the CBI and the CVC met Dr. Singh and shared their concerns on various aspects of the Lokpal.

Dr. Singh referred to the August 27 ‘sense of the House' resolution, agreeing ‘in principle' to the three issues, but did not give any indication on the position of the government over inclusion of the Prime Minister.

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Indian culture of corruption is a Hiumalayan mountain to conquer. No Lokpal or Ombudsman Bill cure the ills of maladministration from Centre and State and Local precints.
CBI currently falls under PMO - which means it's politically directed - more often than not - by PMOs Babhus (Mandarins).
Good sign for future action against public corruption will become explicit when Govt is willing to forego CBI control.

from:  dr. hari naidu
Posted on: Dec 18, 2011 at 15:38 IST

It is rather unfortunate that the Govt could not muster the moral courage to evolve consensus on the Lokpal Bill. The all party meet was a cosmetic gimmick to gain time & to tell all concerned that since opposition parties did not agree on many issues, the Bill cannot be pushed in the current session of Parliament. Fundamentally, it seems the govt is not at all keen to bring the Bill. Inspite of Standing Committee's recommendations to exclude CBI & the lower levels of bureucracy, congress leaders have been accusing Team Anna & Opposition for 'dictating' to Parliament implying that the govt will finetune the draft Bill, suggesting modifications to the SC's report to satisfy Team Anna/Opposition. All this only strengthens the public presumption that the govt is not keen to honour the 'sense of the House' resolution. Of course, the proposed Bill cannot satisfy Team Anna on all aspects but if the govt is serious it can introduce the Bill & thrash out other items in due course of time.

from:  SR Sankaran
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011 at 17:40 IST

I agree with Mr Paswan that the Lokpal bill should not be rushed through in hurry. The Lokpal bill would influence the fate of our future generations. All the aspects of the bill need to be critically examined and debated. I do not like the concept of an all-inclusive Lokpal mechanism that is accountable or answerable to none. Presently, the elected cabinet is answerable to the Parliament. Who is to assess and monitor the efficiency of the Lokpal system? What if the Lokpal misuses the CBI? For the sake of argument, even if it is assumed that the Lokpal would be free from corruption, that does not guarantee efficient performance while dealing with corruption of others. What if there is apathy, delay and indifferencce? The Lokpal should be answerable to the Parliament which represent the collective will of the people and the Parliament should have authority to remove the Lokpal for any reason(s) it may deem fit. Furthermore, no person should occupy the Lokpal post for more than 5 years.

from:  Pramod Patil
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011 at 12:33 IST

When in the year 2011 there is a growing desire to put so many checks on the politicians then it reflects 1) the types of associations who constitutes the ruling party today and 2) the future possible groups who may come to the top.3)The lack of morals of the present day politicians who come from the reserved categories and 4)those who stoop to any level to destroy that misbehave of low moral people coming into post and position through reservation. A lesson for everyone, of disgruntled people trying to finally get even. Distracting the attention of people from orderly growth and systematic improvement of all sections of society. Trying to pretend that through stock markets real growth can be achieved.Short changing the earlier methods of save and invest in new companies.Trying to speed up by trying to force development by quickly bringing in outside companies with vast experience.Its a long time since the Minister left The School of Economics- take a refresher.

from:  Prof.Paul.V.John
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011 at 10:20 IST

It was expected., there will not be Consensus among the parties, reason No 1. no body wants to let the lokpal issue to be let off the hand, which gives them an opportunity to corner the government. No. 2. its not so easy to form a bill which demands so many changes in our system within a stipulated time.No.3 Ironically some Politicians too support in forming a tailor made Lokpal as per their wish.Its taking us nowhere, I think we have to be practical, we cannot expect everything to happen overnight,demands of including PM and CBI needs some serious discussions in the interest of the Nation,so the best and wise move would be to start of the bill with these two excluded, which would be right too.These discussions can go on later and included in phase when consensus is reached.But having said that, no one wants a solution, these Politicians are just taking this as an opportunity to fulfil their own dirty political game.

from:  Jaya Prakash
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011 at 07:43 IST

The all-party meet appeared like a pro-corruption conclave.The concern appeared to be about how to salvage corruption avenues. For all those who are against Anna's movement, this is a wake up call.There is no way the politicians are going to let go of corruption opportunities. People need to support Anna. He is made into a demon by the corrupt political class and some paid journalists. Nowadays you can see the Anti anna line of debate on TV interviews.Congress is virtually buying over the media. India needs a mega-Tahrir square.

from:  Vishwanath
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011 at 06:39 IST

We should not expect corrupt peoples to enact anti corruption law. They afraid that if such a strong and effective law is passed and becomes an ACT, then it will applicable mostly on them.During the time of election they comes to the peoples with certain proposals for the benefit of peoples at their own level in the shape of election manifesto, and if the peoples are asking them to enact a strong anti corruption law then why they worried.It clearly shows that they do not have any respect for the feelings of the peoples of this country. they are be fooling the peoples of this country and they have no concern with the peoples except demanding vote at the time of election. This also show the pitiable condition of this country as well as helplessness of the peoples.they are the soft target at the hand of Businessmen the so called Politician. who are running the affairs of this country only for their own benefit and for the benefit of their nears and dears & to protect the corrupt/criminals

from:  Nirmal Singh
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011 at 06:12 IST

The Manmohan Singh government doesn't seem to have the necessary political strength and support in the country to successfully confront the many political and economic problems facing it. It is time that the Congress party and its supporters in the media realised that this country can no longer be run as a proprietary concern. We need leaders of eminence who have grown up working among the people, understanding their problems and earning their trust.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011 at 05:20 IST

It is certainly very strange that the CPI should express opposition to the inclusion of Groups C and D Government employees within the ambit of the Lokpal.One thing is very clear.When the Government itself appears to have agreed to approve in principle three of Team Anna's demands,opposition from other quarters makes one infer that there are quite a few who are very much in favor of corruption.Opposition on frivolous or unacceptable grounds would clearly divide the MPs into two broad categories.Those who are PRO-CORRUPTION and those who are ANTI-CORRUPTION.The people will wait with bated breath for the reasons dished out for opposing the Bill.

from:  Raj Kumar
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011 at 05:19 IST

When I hear the netas of India sing praises and veneration for the Constitution, democracy and Parliament,,, it reminds me of an incident many years ago when I heard an African man berating at his mostly white audience in Hyde Park, London. - He said something like that the White man came to Africa and taught about the white man sang praises of God and told the Africans to look up to the heavens and praise the Lord with utmost respect....while the trusting Africans did that, the white man quietly plundered all the diamonds, gold and other things out of the country......Now there is a parallel here. The Indian netas singing praises about the supremacy of Parliament , the Constitution and democracy to the Indian masses, while the netas stole, looted and plundered the country. - The lesson from all this is - NEVER TRUST SUPPORTERS OF A HOLY COW.

from:  Nagendra
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011 at 04:35 IST

Please do not delay the passing of the Lok pal Bill. Getting consensus on any issue is a difficult task. 'Sense of the Resolution' may be incorporated in the objects and reasons for introduction of Lokpal Bill and when the Bill is passed and still some parties wanted to amend could do so at a later stage. Much time had been spent on this Bill and enough is enough...let the Government be allowed to pass the Bill during this session.

from:  Venkatesan Ramalingam
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011 at 04:18 IST
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