Asserting that there would be only one draft Lokpal Bill and not two, Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily on Thursday accused the team headed by Anna Hazare of indulging in a disinformation campaign on the deliberations of the civil society-government representatives of the joint committee to draft the legislation.
At a press conference here, Mr. Moily, who is the committee convener, charged the civil society members with coming up with a new version of the Bill at every meeting. “Every time they produce new things from their pocket and expect us to respond.”
They were demanding clauses which would necessitate constitutional amendments, while the mandate of the committee was to draft legislation.
Mr. Moily said the demand for inclusion of the conduct of MPs in Parliament was against the provisions of the Constitution. “When we seek clarifications, they maintain that they are not in favour of constitutional amendments and are seeking to draft legislation within the framework of the Constitution.”
“6 contentious points”
The Minister claimed that of the 40 specific points raised by them on the contours of the Bill, the government was in agreement with 34. “There are only six contentious points and the government is ready to sit down to negotiate on them.”
The government was in favour of bringing in a strong Lokpal Bill with the cooperation of civil society and would make another attempt on June 20 to sort out the differences. If necessary, there could be another session the following day.
The Minister said there was no final word yet on bringing the Prime Minister within the purview of the anti-corruption legislation and consultations within and outside the government on the subject were on.
However, he was not willing to spell out the stand of his Ministry or of the government on inclusion or exclusion of the Prime Minister within the ambit of the Bill on the plea that he could not speak on behalf of the government.
In the event of failure of the two sides to arrive at a consensus on the Bill, then their views on the contentious issues would be sent to the Cabinet.
“But there will be no two drafts,” Mr. Moily said, contradicting civil society representative Arvind Kejriwal's statement on Wednesday that two separate drafts — one prepared by the government representatives and the other by the civil society members — would be sent to the Cabinet.
The Minister accused the BJP and sections of civil society of obstructing the war launched by the UPA government on corruption and said it would not be distracted by such attempts.
He took exception to the comment by BJP president Nitin Gadkari that the promise by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to fight against corruption was to be taken as seriously as the resolve of Pakistan to root out terrorism.
“Mr. Gadkari is a pygmy in politics. This is what happens when a small-time politician occupies a high position in national politics. The BJP president is a miserable failure as was evident in the performance of his party in the recent elections in five States.”