New Delhi: The all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday is unlikely to come out with a common view on the lokpal legislation with NDA and Left parties playing hardball and the government yet to finalise its draft bill.
The two formations decided to attend the meeting on lokpal on Saturday but will not give their views till government presents its draft measure while Anna Hazare met Congress President Sonia Gandhi seeking her support for inclusion of the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary within its ambit.
At Sunday’s meeting, the government is expected to present to the parties a comparative draft of the provisions of the lokpal Bill suggested by the civil society and those put forward by the five union ministers in the joint drafting committee.
The major points of difference between the two sides inclusion of the Prime Minister, higher judiciary, MPs’ conduct inside Parliament and CBI’s anti-corruption wing within the ambit of lokpal, lower bureaucracy across the country, mode of financing and the selection panel will be brought to the table.
BJP, which is not disclosing its views on the lokpal bill, and its allies JD(U), Akali Dal and Shiv Sena met in New Delhi on Saturday to decide their strategy on tomorrow’s meeting convened by the government to evolve a consensus.
After a meeting of NDA leaders, the BJP-led formation indicated it would respond only to a draft legislation approved by the union cabinet and introduced in Parliament.
While NDA allies JD(U) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) were in favour of attending the all-party meeting, BJP was initially in two minds on whether to participate or keep away.
Another ally Shiv Sena will not attend Sunday’s meeting due to some differences with civil rights activist Hazare who spoke against its chief Bal Thackeray a few days ago.
BJP itself is said to be having reservations against civil society demands like inclusion of higher judiciary and MPs’ conduct in Parliament because this would go against the constitutional provisions.
Explaining the Left parties’ stand, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said they would attend the meeting but since the government has not given its own draft bill the parties would give their views only when they get it.
Accusing Congress of going back on its earlier stand of including Prime Minister in the bill, Karat said the office of the Prime Minister should be included as it was not immune from the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Law should be amended even to check acts of corruption by MPs, he said.
Meanwhile, stepping up his campaign Hazare and his colleagues met Gandhi and pressed for inclusion of the Prime Minister and the judiciary under the ambit of the legislation.
Emerging from the 30-minute talks with Gandhi, Hazare said a “proper” draft of lokpal bill should go to Parliament and he will respect whatever the House decides as he was not against Parliament or democracy. The Gandhian, however, threatened to go on an indefinite fast from August 16 if a “proper” draft is not brought before Parliament.
In the meeting that was marked by “cordiality and courtesy”, Gandhi assured Hazare that she will apprise the government of their views once more.
AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, who was present during the parleys, said no contentious issue, including that of bringing the PM and the judiciary under the lokpal, figured at the meeting with Gandhi but added that they have no problem with what Hazare chose to say outside about his plans.